The counter-intuitive nature of slowing down to speed up

Productivity- we all know it’s important. It fuels growth and bottom line results. So when you push people to move faster, shorten deadlines, and bring in new, more efficient technology, productivity will increase, right?


There are some things that you might have neglected in your quest to be more productive. The biggest one is people and whether they are inspired, motivated and engaged. All of these are impacted for better or worse by you, their leader.

I know it doesn’t seem possible, but when you slow down (bringing your team with you), magically things speed up. Productivity will increase, deadlines get met (sometimes early) and that new technology you brought in actually gets put to good use.

Take a moment to consider how much more productive you can be when you slow down and take the time to:

Think. You now spend your days reacting to problems and enjoying the rush that this gives you. Spending time alone in thought is something you might be avoiding because it doesn’t seem productive. I would suggest that you spend time with yourself to consider your current impact and your intentions to get better at your leadership and to envision your organization’s future. As you do, notice that spending this time in thought actually creates clarity- exactly what is needed to speed things up.

Coach people. One of the most common push-backs I hear about coaching people (which requires you to slow down to listen and ask questions that will help others find their own answers) is that it takes more time than simply telling them. However, what gets missed in the telling is that connection that coaching provides to help them to learn and become more independent. And the confidence they develop in themselves when they discover they are smart enough to think through things on their own will increase productivity and have a bottom line result.

Include others in collective thinking. Instead of handing down edicts, take the time to bring those who care and matter to the decisions that need to be made. When those who are impacted by decisions get to actually participate in them, they gain a collective sense of wisdom. And that means less time training, explaining, defending and pushing to get things done. Even if you have to make a final decision, bringing people in on the “ground floor” of thinking through the decision will make everyone more productive.

Encourage people in the work they do. Instead of spending so much time pointing out “what’s wrong” (causing dispirited employees which can impact productivity negatively), slow down enough to look for and call out “what’s working”. Yes, you need to correct things when they go sideways, but interestingly enough, when you notice (out loud) what’s working well, people automatically self-correct and move in that direction. Fewer times analyzing “what’s wrong” and more times noticing “what’s working” means that people learn to move (productively) toward the light of what’s working.

Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? How can you possibly slow down to speed things up? Try it, you’ll see.


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.