5 Leadership Lessons from the Slow Movement

The Slow Movement is a cultural revolution promoting the notion that faster is not always better. What began in the 1980s as a “Slow Food” lifestyle movement soon extended to other contexts such as “Slow Fashion”, focusing on quality over quantity to enable sustainability, and to the business world as “Slow Work”.

Whilst notion of ‘slow’ can seem counter-productive to performance in fast-paced work environments, the Slow Movement promotes a mindset that encourages being consciously aware, focused and deliberate in how we work. Here’s 5 leadership lessons that epitomize ‘slow’ and support the interdependence between wellbeing and performance in the workplace.

  1. Focus Intentionally

  2. Switch out fast for efficiency by deliberate where and how you focus your attention and energy.

    Try to avoid the common trap of focusing on easy tasks to avoid the harder ones that need doing. The Eisenhower Matrix is an oldie but a goodie for helping you prioritise tasks.

    Let go of the myth of multitasking and do one thing at a time, deliberately and with your full focused attention. You may think you’re multitasking but what you’re actually doing is task switching, reducing your speed and accuracy.

  3. Create Space

  4. High performance doesn’t happen when you’re always ‘on’. Instead, performance requires space – space to reflect, space to connect, and sometimes even space to stop.

    Stop throwing speed at the complexity, consider individual and team operating rhythms to allow for reflection time, and embrace the flexibility hybrid work environments offer.

    Create the space to connect more fully with yourself and with the environment around you by going for a walk. Just 30 minutes can improve physical health, reduce stress, and increase energy.

    Remember that in certain circumstances, non-action can be a powerful action.

  5. Consider Pace

  6. Faster isn’t always better. “Slow work” is about setting the optimal pace for the task and having the agility to adjust your pace as required.

    In 2014 Mark Zuckerberg adjusted his famous tagline “move fast and break things” to “move fast with stable infra” in recognition that balance is required to create the most efficient and effective outcomes.

    In an age when meaningful work is becoming increasingly important, set a steady pace that enables you to connect more consciously with the work you’re engaged.

  7. Value Quality Over Quantity

  8. Dispel the notion that you need to work longer hours to be a high performer. For example, a Stamford Study found that people working 70 hours per week achieve no more than those working 55. Anything more than 50 hours per week creates a sharp decline in productivity.

    Lose the obsession with back-to-back meetings and consider whether you’re trading in good business for ‘busyness’. Filling space doesn’t make you more productive or successful. Instead, shift your focus from activity to impact.

  9. Practice Patience

  10. As a mindset, impatience is future-focused and signifies your resistance to the way things are right now. When you are impatient, consciously or unconsciously, you seek to move more swiftly to the next moment, to something else.

    Take time to reflect on the cause of your impatience. Are you experiencing impatience with yourself? With someone else? With the work environment? Re-examine your experience from the viewpoint of constructive thinking - How urgent are things?

    Developing patience will increase your ability to handle delays, difficulties or challenges.

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5 Leadership Lessons from the Slow Movement

5 Leadership Lessons from the Slow Movement The Slow Movement is a cultural revolution promoting the notion that faster is not always better. What began in the 1980s as a “Slow Food” lifestyle movement soon extended to other contexts such as “Slow Fashion”, focusing on quality over quantity to enable…

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