There are many times in life when it’s necessary to take a pause. The pace of life today has most of us running at a pretty hard pace and a pause is the last thing on our mind.
For the past several months I took a pause. It started when the executive leader that I work with Dr. Thom Rainer, President/CEO of LifeWay asked our executive team to think about 10 years from now and build a strategy for a strong, viable, and successful future. That one question really sent me into a leadership pause. I began to ask the hard questions about success and what was sustainable and what was at risk. The pause lead to several months of strategy workouts and concluded in major changes for our organization including leadership changes. The strategic reset meant my position was no longer needed. Another executive leadership role emerged and I was asked to take it. My leadership pause has me in a new place as Executive V.P. of Organizational Development and I believe it is the right place for me.
It is our job as leaders to lead with a view of the future. We make decisions everyday that have implications for the future. We have a responsibility to hand off the organizations we lead healthy and strong. My COO would often say “I care more about tomorrow than today” and this kept us from making shortsighted decisions.
How do you know if you need to take a leadership pause? Leadership pauses need to happen in our life as leaders for many different reasons:
Sometimes we need to stop and assess the strategy of our companies in light of the future. Are we headed in the right direction? Do we really know “why” we’re doing what we’re doing? The “why” is critical and every leader needs to have clarity because the organization depends on having that answer to drive the organization forward in that strategic mission.
Sometimes we need a leadership pause just because we are exhausted and we need rest. We may find ourselves too engaged in daily operational details to really give overall strategic leadership. We are reacting too much and not being proactive. I recently coached a leader who was spending leadership energy and time to negative comments on a meeting. I often call these things “ankle biters”. It is things that irritate and nibble at you but if you bend over to deal with them you will lose focus on leading your organization forward.
To Vision Cast
Sometimes we need a leadership pause because the forces of change and the challenges your organization faces causes you to lose confidence and hope. It is critical that you do the hard look at the future and have a compelling vision with a strategy for success. If you lose hope, there is no way you can lead. This isn’t a false hope, that isn’t sustainable. It must be real, authentic, and deep within. A Brazilian leader and friend once told me hope is “a fire in the belly.”
We Are Off-balance
Finally, and most importantly, you may need a leadership pause because you have forgotten who God is and the power of the gospel. I do believe our greatest risk as leaders of people is to take our eyes off Christ and put them on anything else. Not the market, not ourselves, not the challenges or circumstances, and not on other leaders. As spiritual leaders, we see our work and our life through a different lens than the world. It is our faith in God, it is the compelling truth of Jesus and the gospel, that causes us to step up and step in to lead with confidence and hope.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 HCSB
Do you need a leadership pause? I would love to hear how you pause in your own life and leadership.