A Pause Can Power Performance
Although counterintuitive to hard-charging leaders, stepping back amid complexity and uncertainty shifts you to greater clarity, understanding, and agility.
Managers typically try to deal with the pace of change through greater speed. But excellent leaders know they must step back to move forward, according to Kevin Cashman, senior partner with Korn/Ferry International, and author of “The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward.”
“The pause principle,” says Cashman, writing in Leadership Excellence, “is the intentional process of stepping back, within, and outside ourselves, to lead forward with greater authenticity, purpose, and contribution.”
Learning to pause
Cashman suggests executives employ three transformative pauses to move from management effectiveness to leadership excellence:
1. Grow personal leadership. Most enduring change begins with self-change. If you want to change the organizations, you first must become the change you wish to see, he says. Your credibility then is strong and your ability to attract others to a greater purpose is compelling and authentic.
2. Grow others. When people know that a leader is in it for them, great things are possible.
Cashman calls this emotionally intelligent leadership "caring directness." Leaders develop talent when employees know they’re totally invested and completely committed to them. Only then do leaders earn the right to set high expectations, motivate others, and drive them to unleash their full potential.
Ultimately, the true test of sustainable leadership goes beyond the revenue and profit produced—the real measure of leadership is the character and quality of the people the leader and organization produce.
3. Grow cultures of innovation. While efficiency is the mark of management, innovation is the hallmark of leadership. In today's business climate, innovation is no longer merely a distinguishing difference, says Cashman—it’s the enduring difference. Innovation involves embracing complexity and ambiguity and risking failure for the sake of learning.
In all of this, Cashman suggests leaders who take time to pause are the ones who produce enduring cultures of innovation centered on mission and purpose.
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