Getting the Pace Right

Augustus, founder of the Roman Empire famously said Festina lente or “Make haste slowly.” Does this seem quaint today? Or does it still make sense in a 24/7 world moving at the speed of a smart phone? Several years ago, the author and business leader, James Sudakow wrote in a blog that he had participated in meetings “where key leaders are literally working on their laptops on something else during important decision-making processes—not because they are trying to be disrespectful but because there is always something else that is urgently pulling them away.”

As leaders, we all understand this pressure.

Management consultants, McKinsey & Company, in a 2018 blog on leadership by Cornelius Chang and Robin Groeneveld, point out that speeding up isn’t the answer. “Most leadership theories continue to be based on—and most leaders still live and work on—the Newtonian world view where leaders strive to control and structure their challenges and guarantee outcomes. Engaging in a quick discussion and moving as fast as possible from A to B in a controlled and straight line fits this world view perfectly.”

But does that model of rapidly moving from A to B hold in today’s complex environment?

Because we work on many goals and projects simultaneously moving quickly throughout the process, it is crucial that we realize the difference between arbitrary and urgent. Slowing down in a focused way may actually be the path toward achieving the right pace and thereby making the right decisions. The logic that Chang and Groenevld offer: “Accept that your challenges are complex, pace the speed of your work, trust that intelligent, in-depth discussions lead to solutions, and set the right attention and intention by being present and directing your energy.”

As we strive for sustainability, relevance and impact at The Fedcap Group, we see the need for, and the value of, leadership moving at the same pace. We are making critical decisions that depend us being in sync. As leaders we are asking ourselves: Did we take enough time to thoroughly review various scenarios before making a decision? Did we have the right people in the room? Did we allow for differing perspectives to have voice? Did we slow down enough? In a new book called Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World, published by Business Expert Press, business advisor and consultant Liz Bywater, Ph.D., reminds her readers that being mindful is learning how to be completely focused on present conversations and present realities.

It is crucial that we form a strategy to find a balance to our fast-paced work environment so we can lead with clarity, thoughtfulness, and purpose.

The nine to five world is long gone, a time when we turned off the desk lamp, pushed the chair back under desk, and closed the office door. We now live in a 24/7 world and may still be a bit shaky about how to make it work. Festina lente!