I love the concept of going slow to go fast. It fits perfectly into our principles of Thoughtful Leadership – pausing the day-to-day frenzy in order to be more present, intentional, and authentic. To me, going slow to go fast means taking the time to set up your team, idea, project, or task for success rather than diving forward with no planning or forethought. It means making that little extra space to listen, explain, question, or acknowledge. Often leaders and managers, in a desire to keep things moving and to pack as much into one day as possible, speed ahead and leave problems and chaos in their wake.

Case in point: I recently spoke to a manager who was assessing the leadership abilities of a colleague. Let’s call him that colleague Joe. She acknowledged that Joe was “super busy” and overloaded with his volume of work and breadth of responsibilities. However, his way of working and interacting with others only accentuated his overwhelm and sent the rest of the team into hyper-drive as well. His frenetic pace was contributing to a team culture of disorganization, lack of collaboration, and stress.

One example of Joe’s problem behavior was his email communication. His colleague shared that Joe’s emails were unclear, cryptic, and often incomplete. He regularly forwarded long email chains with no explanation or direction, just a simple “Please handle.” His email requests were often confusing, missing information, and perceived as rude. Joe was speeding along clearing out his inbox, but creating frustration and more work in the process. If he could instead slow down? Slowing down long enough to write a complete thought and clarify direction, he would enable the team to “go fast.”

I see people going too fast in their verbal communication as well – I don’t mean talking too fast, but rather cutting short conversations that may require a little more time to develop. Rattling off quick directions as you’re running off to your next meeting with a cursory “You got that?” at the end will not give your team member the opportunity to ask the questions he or she may have and will likely result in an end product you are not happy with. Being fully present, whether you are on the phone or in-person, and taking the time to engage in a dialogue, not a monologue, will pay off in the end.

If you tend to speed through your communication each day, I offer you one challenge: read the recent emails in your Sent folder. Did you convey the message you intended to? Are the messages clear, understandable and actionable? Is the tone of the email appropriate? Where would slowing down a bit have allowed you or others to go fast?

In what other areas could you benefit from the go slow to go fast approach?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For help in finding ways to go slow to go fast, contact Robyn at rmcleod@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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