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The Power of Pause

Tuesday 25th July 2023

In a world where many of us feel the need to have an instant reaction to something, witnessing someone take a moment to absorb the situation, consider what's been said, and only then respond is an unusually powerful behaviour.

A pause gives everyone time to think. It allows the previously silent to contribute and gives the "loudest voice in the room" the space to be quiet. Pausing can also allow a situation to resolve itself without intervention.

Pausing is especially potent for new leaders. When moving into a leadership role for the first time, there's often a strong urge to impress and make an immediate impact. This can be particularly challenging if the new leader has been promoted from an individual contributor role and is now working with former peers. The change for both parties can lead to friction, and many new leaders rush to establish new boundaries quickly.

However, rapid decision-making is not always a strength; in fact, I'd argue it's the opposite. Pausing has numerous benefits that can lead to better outcomes:

  • Clarity — Taking a moment to pause can help leaders see the situation more clearly and consider all relevant factors.
  • Consequences — Pausing gives leaders the opportunity to consider the potential outcomes of their choices.
  • Information — Pausing allows leaders to gather relevant data, seek advice from subject matter experts, and conduct thorough research.
  • Emotion — By pausing, leaders can better manage their emotions and avoid making impulsive choices driven solely by the heat of the moment.
  • Alternatives — Pausing allows leaders to explore different approaches, weigh the pros and cons, and select the most appropriate course of action.
  • Consultation — Pausing gives leaders the chance to consult with others, gather diverse perspectives, and encourage collaboration.
  • Alignment — Pausing provides leaders with the time to evaluate whether the decision aligns with the organisation's core values and long-term vision.
  • Risk — Taking a pause allows leaders to assess potential risks associated with the decision.
  • Confidence — Pausing to analyse the situation and carefully considering the decision can boost a leader's confidence.

Next time you feel the urge to "dive in", consider taking a few seconds to pause and see what happens.

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