Learn leadership tactics for overcoming the bias for action and the power of adopting a strategic pause. Explore the natural bias for action in the context of an environment where leaders are constantly pressured to both do more and think more. Explore evidence to show that suppressing that response can improve performance.
- As humans, we're wired to get things done. That natural bias for action, it's in our DNA. Action is also strongly valued by our society and it's heavily reinforced. Doing something is perceived as more valuable than doing nothing. And many people associate success with the go-getters who are always on the motion, multitasking, crossing things off their to-do list, they get things done and the busier they look, the more impressive it seems, at least on the outside. Today's leaders are facing enormous new challenges. They're expected to both do more and think more and innovate more. And since we're all working with the same 24 hours in a day, those expectations eventually become impossible. We simply can't compete on this new playing field if we keep following the old rules. That's why some inventive leaders are adopting a counterintuitive approach to help them keep pace with today's challenges. Instead of moving faster, they stop. They intentionally take a strategic pause, a mental timeout. They give their brains the space to let everything they've read and heard percolate. To weigh their options, to explore fresh perspectives. They can't do that if they're constantly in motion. The strategic pause could work for you as well. Now I'm not suggesting you should completely ignore your bias for action, that's still a critical part of who you are as the leader and how you get things done. You have deadlines and goals. I'm also not suggesting that you trade in your office desk for a yoga mat. My recommendation is to be more selective. Instead of making action the default for every challenge, pair that with an alternative response, a companion habit, one that integrates being with doing. You'll find that it consistently delivers positive outcomes. In fact, neuroscientists at Washington University decided to test this theory. They looked at the brain scan data of people doing math problems and word games. The intense focus of those tasks cause sharp spikes in some parts of the brain but major declines in others. Then they compared that with the brain scans of people who were sitting and doing nothing. They were surprised to find that the creative part of the brain with this group was much more pronounced. The resting brain was actually quite busy absorbing and evaluating information, a function that gets shutdown when the active brain hijacks all the mental energy. Here's the takeaway, what might look like doing nothing is actually doing something that could be extremely important for leadership success. Research shows that professionals who incorporate the strategic pause increased their productivity, generate better ideas, and improved their performance. It gets results. As a leader, make an unbreakable appointment with yourself every day or every week to step out of the rush and just think. Admittedly, this will probably feel unnatural when you're raising to meet deadlines but sometimes, this counterintuitive approach is the best solution. Growth and innovation often start with stopping. It's an unexpected leadership choice that will pay off.
- Adopting the strategic pause
- Disrupting your thinking
- Balancing hard data with soft intelligence
- Reevaluating your to-do list
- Communicating to influence and engage
- Approaching challenges as a novice
- Blazing new trails
- Conquering the chaos
- Enduring leadership attributes