4 Situations When a Leader Should Hit the Pause Button

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“Let’s roll!”

“Get ‘er done!”

“More walk–Less talk!”

These and hundreds of other action-oriented leadership expressions speak to how leaders must possess a drive to act, and to act quickly.

But effective leaders also know that there are times when you need to resist the urge to act and to actually hit the “pause button.”

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For effective leaders there is no contradiction in possessing a drive to act while at the same time knowing when to pause. Rather, it’s a tension they learn to manage–a skill which informs their decisions as to when to move, and when to wait.

Usually there are four situations when even driven, action-oriented leaders choose to hit the pause button:

1.   When you don’t have all the facts
One of Bill Hybels‘ leadership axioms is facts are your friends. Effective leaders make sure all the information is on their desk before pulling the trigger on an important decision.

2.   When your emotions are running high
Ask a seasoned leader about the worst decisions they’ve ever made, and you’ll often find these decisions were made in haste, fueled by extreme feelings of anger, frustration, impatience, etc.

Don’t make an important decision until you’ve cooled down.

3.   When stakeholders are pressuring you for a quick decision
In his outstanding book, The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership, Steven Sample provides this leadership gem; “Never make a decision today that can reasonably be put off until tomorrow.”

Sample notes that leaders should never feel pressured to make a quick decision, simply because someone else wants them to.

4.   When God is telling you to wait
In an earlier post I pointed out that sometimes God will prompt the leader to wait on His timing.

Leaders must have a heart tuned to God’s still small voice, especially when that voice is telling you to wait.

Hitting the leadership pause button is not the same as being lazy, indecisive or weak. In fact, properly exercised, it can be an indication of a leader’s strength and resolve.

So when you face your next decision keep your bias toward action, but remember to keep your thumb hovering over the pause button, too.

Because sometimes your best leadership decision is choosing to simply wait.

How do you know when to hit the leadership pause button?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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