We have all worked with that certain type of leader who moves so fast and keeps their calendar so tight we only get face time in 4-minute segments. We walk with them quickly in halls between meetings trying to get answers to our questions.
We have also worked for those leaders who oscillate and wait until the urgency passes and opportunities fade. Staff meetings are filled with personal stories, snacks, and a sense of wasted time. Both styles can leave teams feeling stuck and dis-empowered.
Reflection, with a goal to be a thoughtful leader, can often be a mask for leadership passivity. Passivity is marked by playing small and having a ‘wait and see’ attitude where you submit your power to those around you. To let others speak first, you may not speak at all.
On the other side, the desire to be highly effective and efficient can be a mask for leadership hurry. When leaders hurry, the foot is always on the accelerator with a focus on task completion at all cost and sometimes without rationale. Relationships and sustainable results pay the price. Conversations are cut short, and short term gains trump strategy.
Passivity and hurry work against each other but they also are two formidable enemies in that they both:
The anecdote to passivity is action. Often action comes as a form of language. Leaders need to be purposeful in their language and use actionable words that create momentum. Passive leaders need to make declarations, commitments and negotiate getting work done.
Leaders who hurry may need to be stiff-armed. They need to slow down, look up, make eye contact and start asking questions. Those questions should not be ones where they already have the answers. Instead, they should begin with the word ‘what’.
The key to all leadership effectiveness is language. Language creates action.
Are you sitting in a passive leader role? Where do you need to take action? Alternatively, are you in a leader hurry? Where do you need to slow down and start asking questions?
Carrie Arnold, PhD, MCC, BCC
In no particular order: Author | Dog mom to Moose | Speaker | Reader Mom to human offspring Wife | Lover of Learning Leadership coach & consultant, The Willow Group | Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation | Program Director for Evidence-Based Coaching at Fielding Graduate University