How to slow down in a high-speed job
As soon as you step into a top position at a company, there’s pressure to get off to a quick start. Yet the best way to succeed is to slow things down
No matter how sophisticated and mature the new leader may be, rushing too quickly toward early wins can deprive the new leader of the insight needed to understand the culture and build relationships. As a consequence, quick wins may soon be undone, or they may beget new leadership problems.
Deliberately slowing down allows you to clarify what the people around you want most, the effects of your behaviour, sources of resistance, and the ramifications of your decisions. The result: You will have more control over the pace of your transition to new leadership responsibilities and the company’s transition to its new era. Dan Ciampa, former CEO, and the author of five books, including Transitions at the Top: What Organizations Must Do to Make Sure New Leaders Succeedshares some insights.
MOULDING A NEW LEADER
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, psychologist Daniel Kahneman explores the intricacies of judgement and argues that different tempos of decision making are better for different challenges. In order to build coalitions, a new leader must recognise that a handoff at the top is unsettling for everyone.
Subordinates will follow a leader they can count on. Decisiveness is an important factor, but more important is wise judgement in the face of complex, important challenges. Followers want the leader to listen to their ideas and merge them with their own, and they want to see her handle difficult problems carefully. This requires controlling the action and slowing down the pace.
There are a handful of techniques that allow the new leader to do this. They fall into these five categories:
Control the flow
Because a new leader inherits their predecessor’s administrative system, the mismatch between the rhythm of the new office and their decisionmaking style can slow progress toward early successes. Managing the flow of information into your office and into your brain is critically important for the judgement required by the most important issues.
Controlling the flow should offer more time for reflection so that you can better grasp subtleties of relationships and the underlying meaning of information coming at you. It’s enormously helpful to have trusted advisers — both inside and outside — who are dedicated to your success and have expertise in areas important to your agenda.
The next two tactics help to control the pace of interactions.
Even if you understand perfectly what has been said in a meeting or one-on-one discussion, repeat what you heard. Similarly, when you want to verify that you’ve been understood, ask the listener to repeat what you said.
From time to time, ask summing-up questions such as, “What did we just do?” “What just happened here?” and “What should we learn from that?” Questions like these force a pause, preventing a discussion from rushing to a premature decision or blocking a group from coalescing around what may be the wrong conclusion.
A pause before responding has a double benefit. It offers the leader a chance to weigh alternatives and decide the best way to respond, and it pushes others to wonder what’s going through the leader’s mind, which may cause them to think more creatively.
— The New York Times