Slow Down

It’s been a while

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, it’s just that I’ve been saying more of it in person than in writing.

And some of what I have said in person, has had unexpected impact – sometimes good, and sometimes….. Well, let’s just say that I had to hang around and clean up the mess that my words, and in this case, actions, created.


I love chaos – nature’s way of creation, and I can easily create something out of random thoughts and ideas. At other times in my working life, an extremely high value has been often placed on my ability to quickly synthesise information. And from that information, to develop a way forward.

In the more intimate work environment I enjoy these days, the speed at which I can create has the real potential to leave others feeling less able to keep up. The constant barrage of new ideas and directions creates the kind of confusion that I personally find stimulating. Leadership however isn’t about me and what I want. It’s about vision, and one’s ability to connect people to the vision. Not to leave them lost and alone.

As a leader ‘in front’, leaving my team behind can therefore have some fairly serious consequences, not the least of which is a failure of any of us to thrive.

In the past, I would have judged that as their failure. Now I discern it to be mine.

Slowing down

The people I work with are differently-abled than me. Different talents, perspectives, skills and behaviours. I value each one. They bring wonderful gifts to our joint enterprise. Just enough order to keep us moving; enough enquiry to keep us connected; enough zeal to keep us from stepping over what matters. I love all of it.

Except for when I am in the full flow of creation; then the blinders go on, and I forget that all of their talents and input are needed too.

From my team, I learn, again and again, that when they says ’slow down’, it’s probably not because they think I should slow down for me!

It’s so incredibly easy to believe that speed and agility are valuable, they can become an ego-feast if you let them. As a leader, believing this kind of ‘personal press’ is not something that one can afford. Hubris is an unattractive quality at any time. In a leader it is just not compelling.

Embracing a more agile model

In the model of leadership that I strive to follow – the Co-Active® Model – leadership is a multi-dimensional experience. Sometimes from the front. Sometimes behind. Sometimes beside. Esssentially from the gut, the heart and the head. Each dimension makes demands on ones ability; each dimension invites reactivity or creativity. And leadership looks different from each of those places.

Slowing down is a way of both noticing what needs to be done in the moment, while holding the urgent need for forward motion, each balanced against the other. An intentional slowing down allows space for re-alignment, re-connection and re-commitment.

When in my role of “leader in front”, I have two responsibilities; the powerful stand for vision from the heart and connection to the people. When I do this well, it leaves room for others to be their best. When I do it badly, I find myself alone, seeking to gain control through domination of will or voice. It is far more effective if I can find a way to reconnect and clean up the mess I’ve created before continuing on, with my team.

2 thoughts on “Slow Down”

  1. Love the concept of “slowing down” so that others can stay connected and contribute more effectively. I know how easy it can be to disconnect from the chaos when it isn’t making sense, and end up in a totally reactive state of blame and apathy (“they’re completely out of control and there’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well check out.”)
    AND, you’ve made me think more about alternatives for the Leader behind to bring to the space. There are always options for finding a place to serve, so shifting to the reactive place is actually a choice, thought not always conscious (up until now!).

    • Thanks John, what I like about this is the pointing towards the ‘reactive’ state. And for a leader it seems important to be able to determine when a ‘natural ability/ style or preference’ goes reactive. How does it affect those around one? It seems like ‘leader in front’ needs to also be agile in ‘leader in the field’!

Comments are closed.