Six things leaders can do to move faster

Organizations move at the speed of their employees.

Employees move at the speed of their leader.

Leaders move as fast as their capability.

In a world where it’s hard to keep up, and keeping up is no longer enough, speed is the currency of success.

“The pace of the leader determines the pace of the organization.” -Lee Iacocca

For Zenger and Folkman, authors of the book Speed, leadership speed is “the ability to execute quickly and correctly so that the time to value is decreased.”

I love those words “time-to-value.” I’ve used them to describe the value of change management, and why our team exists at all. (But, that’s another topic for another day). Who doesn’t want a faster time-to-value?

  • We add on to our homes, and we like to see it raise the assessed value (aka price) as quickly as possible.
  • We invest in our health by eating differently, and we like to see the result instantaneously.
  • We instruct our children in the way to talk respectfully, and we like to see them change their behavior immediately.

Organizations like to see their investments pay off as fast as possible. For some, it’s a matter of survival.

According to Zenger and Folkman, leaders who wish to increase their pace can do eight things to raise the pace during brief interactions (which are incredibly important to building connections and connections are the basis of navigating the organization). I’ve profiled the six tactics below that I find most helpful:

  1. Set the pace of the conversation: Make time for short interactions and drop by’s. In Speed, the authors make a great suggestion to put boundaries on the time invested by asking a question like “Tell me something you think I don’t know and maybe don’t want to hear.”
  2. Softly (or respectfully) guide others conversations: Let people know how much time you have. Or, encourage them to cut to the chase by saying “So you need something from me. How can I help?”
  3. Set expectations by being consistent: Every time someone drops by, give them the same experience and soon they’ll show up ready and the conversation will move faster. If someone brings you a problem and every time you ask “What have you considered?” and “Which do you think is the best solution?”…before too long, they’ll show up prepared, and the interaction will move faster.
  4. Use very short scheduled meetings: Even though Outlook schedules meetings in 30 minute increments, doesn’t mean you have to.
  5. Delegate: The Zenger Folkman angle on delegation is one I love…they suggest asking your team “What do you see me doing that you would like to do?” or  “What responsibilities would enhance your development and free up my time?”
  6. Stop multitasking: We’re fooling ourselves if we think we can multi-task. If you focus and your team focused on the topic at-hand, you’ll move faster. (Personally, a work pet peeve is when someone who is obviously multi-tasking isn’t prepared when asked a question or suddenly queues into the conversation and asks questions or clarifications that takes the whole group backward.)

Which one will you try in the upcoming week? Just one…don’t try them all. Put your favorite tactic into practice for a couple of weeks…consistently, and add another next week.

Then, check the speedometer. Have you moved the needle on the pace of your team?



  1. Excellent.

  2. Fantastic article and so applicable to today’s business! Thank you for posting.

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