Pick up the pace, and your firm will pros­per


The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS -

Sit­ting through marathon meet­ings makes you ir­ri­ta­ble.

Pur­su­ing per­fec­tion at the ex­pense of mak­ing progress leaves you apoplec­tic.

And deal­ing with peo­ple who can’t cut to the chase ex­hausts you. Pa­tience is not your virtue. We could pun­ish you. Re­mind you to go along to get along. Tell you to work on your poker face. Ship you off for re­me­dial train­ing.

But if we’re smart, we’ll pro­mote you.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions need to pick up the pace, say John Zenger and Joseph Folk­man.

“The sur­vival of or­ga­ni­za­tions de­pends on their abil­ity to move quickly,” say the au­thors of “Speed: How Lead­ers Ac­cel­er­ate Suc­cess­ful Ex­e­cu­tion” and co-founders of a firm that de­liv­ers lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment pro­grams to or­ga­ni­za­tions world­wide.

“We live in a world where the pace at which an or­ga­ni­za­tion moves and its abil­ity to adapt and change can lead to dra­matic suc­cess or fail­ure.”

One of the keys to or­ga­ni­za­tional suc­cess is lead­er­ship speed.

“Ag­ile or­ga­ni­za­tions are full of speedy lead­ers,” say Zenger and Folk­man. “Or­ga­ni­za­tions can only move as fast as their em­ploy­ees do. The pace of em­ploy­ees will im­pact the pace of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Even more im­por­tant is the pace of the leader. Lead­ers who re­sist a brisk pace can be a ma­jor source of a com­pany’s prob­lems and ul­ti­mately its fail­ure.”

Zenger and Folk­man say we need more lead­ers who ex­cel at do­ing things well and do­ing them quickly. Pace-set­ting lead­ers are adept at spot­ting prob­lems and trends early and then wast­ing no time in mak­ing course cor­rec­tions.

Th­ese quick-off-the-mark lead­ers in­spire the rest of us to pick up our game and keep us mo­ti­vated to go the ex­tra mile.

To move your or­ga­ni­za­tion from slug­gish to speedy, lead­ers can set an ex­am­ple by hold­ing shorter meet­ings and hav­ing briefer in­ter­ac­tions. Be­come a master at gen­tly guid­ing oth­ers’ con­ver­sa­tions.

“Help oth­ers get to the heart of the mat­ter and let them know you re­spect their time and you want them to re­spect yours.”

Based on 360-de­gree feed­back re­sults on 52,000 lead­ers, Zenger and Folk­man have iden­ti­fied eight com­pan­ion be­hav­iours that will dial up your lead­er­ship speed:

Be in­no­va­tive with a will­ing­ness to change. Ex­hibit strate­gic per­spec­tive. Dis­play courage. Set stretch goals. Com­mu­ni­cate pow­er­fully. Bring an ex­ter­nal fo­cus. Take ini­tia­tive.

Pos­sess knowl­edge and ex­per­tise.

“The pen­du­lum defin­ing most or­ga­ni­za­tions’ be­hav­iour is cur­rently not in the mid­dle, but on the slow, pon­der­ous side,” say Zenger and Folk­man.

“There is an ur­gent need and huge ben­e­fit to at­tain­ing what we have de­fined as true lead­er­ship speed.”

The au­thors make a con­vinc­ing case for why or­ga­ni­za­tions and lead­ers need to swing the pen­du­lum to the speedy side.

@jay­robb serves as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for Mo­hawk Col­lege and lives in Hamilton.

Speed: How Lead­ers Ac­cel­er­ate Suc­cess­ful Ex­e­cu­tion, by John Zenger and Joseph Folk­man, McGraw Hill, $35.95


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