I have a hard time slowing down. In my day-to-day life, I tend to be one of those guys who’s always, “Go! Go! Go!” from one thing to the next. It’s exhilarating and I certainly cover a good amount of ground each day. However, I recognize the inherent weaknesses that come with this mentality. For one, I believe that strong decision-making skills are dependent upon the ability to take a moment and process all of the available information. Great leaders do this, experienced decision-makers see it’s value, and this has become a focus of mine as I continue my own professional development.
Let’s be honest, with the amount of emails that are constantly pouring in and the ceaseless need for approvals, affirmations, clarifications, and review, it can be hard to find time for contemplation. We’ve collectively become experts at thinking on the fly as we’ve fine-tuned our auto-pilots to make sound decisions for us. On the surface, this seems like a timesaver—however, the truth is that often this kind of decision-making leads to more work in the long run.
"Measure twice, cut once."
Imagine you were going to write an email to your entire company. I’m guessing this email takes a little longer to compose than the note you shoot Dale from accounting. You likely read through the content three or four times to make sure you don’t have any glaring speling or grammars issues. You test every hyperlink to make sure they go to the right place and do whatever it takes to avoid that infamous missing attachment (see attached). It’s not surprising why, this is a very public moment and with email it’s set in stone forever. However, this level of attention is just as important in decision-making, if not more.
I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of slowing down. When faced with a question or decision, a good leader will take time to absorb the information and even ask clarifying questions before coming to a decision. Not only does this ensure that you take the correct course of action, it shows that you truly care about what’s being asked of you. Even if there’s an obvious solution or the problem itself seems trivial, it can be beneficial to pause, even for a moment, before moving on to the next thing.
To take this concept one step further, a great leader will empower their employees to take time as well. Some believe that time is a luxury that they can’t afford; after all, “time is money.” Though taking a minute now may save you an hour later. For instance, if an employee comes to you with a problem that’s easy for you to solve, you may be inclined to quickly get it out of the way. But what if you took a minute and let the problem sit? In this moment, prior to resolution, you have the employee’s full attention. This is a prime opportunity for you to share your thought process so that she may be able to replicate it in the future. By taking time to teach, you’ve saved yourself countless other mini-crises like this one. And in giving your employee this time, you’ve shown her that you expect her to give as much consideration to these problems as you do.
As I’ve said, this is certainly a challenge for me, but I’m confident that I can tackle it with time.