Indianapolis, is most known around the world for one thing – the Indianapolis 500, held each year in May on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. As an Indianapolis resident, the month of May is really all about one thing: s-p-e-e-d.
Drivers team engineers and owners are trying to get more of it.
Sportscasters and journalists are recording it.
And the fans are loving it.
All of this local conversation about speed has gotten me thinking about speed from the perspective of leadership. If you have read much of anything I write you know that I believe that learning is an important behavior for leaders, and that reflection is an integral part of the learning process.
All of which requires time, and seems to be the antithesis of speed.
But not completely.
Consider the planning that every race team does – information and data that they can use quickly to make adjustments that may create greater speed. Even though they win and lose based on speed, they recognize the value of, and invest time in planning. Shortcuts here can have dire consequences. As leaders we must have the same discipline and focus.
In order to be ready to the ultra fast pit stops that are required of all teams, there are tremendous numbers of systems, structure and organization in place. All of this takes time of course, but it all exists with the end goal of speed. One of the effective leadership skills that we must develop is the ability to keep our teams focused on the systems that create and facilitate the end results we desire.
Stephen M. R. Covey said in the title of the book: The Speed of Trust. Trust is a great accelerant of anything done by groups of people. Do you think the best race teams, and the best pit crews have high levels of trust? I’m sure of it – they trust each other’s competence to do their job well in a highly stressful situation. What are you doing as a leader to build that trust within your organization and team?
And why is speed so important to us in our organizations today? Beyond the obvious, almost cliched answers about the rapid nature of change our need to keep up with it, the bottom line is that, speed creates it’s own momentum and allows us to take advantage of opportunities.
We can be excellent at spotting opportunities but if we can’t take action on them quickly, the window will close and the chance gone. And think about how many projects get mired in planning or over-analysis, and the great benefits are delayed greatly or are never achieved.
Creating speed is our role as a leader, whether we are developing a new leadership development program, introducing a new product, or expanding into a new market. Planning and systems? Of course. But all in the service of becoming more nimble, more quick, more able to leap when the time is right.
Basketball coach John Wooden’s famous saying is relevant and leaves us with a key point:
Be quick, but don’t hurry.
In order to do that we as leaders must invest the time in planning and systems, build the trust, and make creating a sense of urgency a priority.
It will win in Indy on Sunday and it can help your organization win too when you lead it correctly.