The Most Important Leadership Strategy: Slowing Down

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Strategy|The Most Important Leadership Strategy: Slowing DownLeadership has become more dynamic and fast-paced as organizations go global and technological integration increases. With these demands, leaders may feel the pressure to speed up, potentially sacrificing important leadership strategies along the way. Increasingly, immediate gratification is the way of the world, yet leaders would be remiss to forget the most important leadership strategy: slowing down.

When leaders choose to implement the deliberate act of slowing down, it can help promote various positive outcomes. Slowing down can help minimize mistakes, increase focus, and assist in the regulation of emotional reactions to various situations. There is no limit to the way these benefits can serve the modern leader.

Leaders who know how to take their foot off the accelerator and slow down — even when the impulse is to speed up — attain tremendous strategic advantages that, in the long run, help them to come out ahead.

Among the many advantages leaders can realize when slowing down, the following four are some of the most prominent:

1. Decreased mistakes. It should come as no surprise that going too fast can produce mistakes. Leaders who become caught up in fast-paced environments can forget their manners, overlook critical steps, or forget tasks altogether. When leaders speed up, they may inadvertently treat team members poorly as they become hyper focused on reaching goals. However, leaders must always remember that their organizations thrive because of their people, and that their people create the culture and environment of the workplace.

If leaders don’t take a moment to slow down, breathe, and check on their team, they won’t know their team’s status. Whether that’s their progress on goals or their internal struggles, team members’ wellbeing is necessary to achieve goals without setbacks. Part of being an effective leader is understanding the need to ensure the team reaches its goals without sacrificing quality or team members’ welfare.

2. Increased listening. Leaders who allow themselves to slow down improve their ability to listen to learn in their conversations. When the need for speed pushes all involved to move too quickly, conversations become compressed and the ability to actively listen diminishes. For leaders, this is especially detrimental. They must remain entirely present in all their conversations in order to keep a pulse on their team.

Should leaders regularly face instances where they’re unable to fully listen, they end up losing instead of gaining time, often having to reconvene team members to go back over important points or concerns. Instead, slowing down enables them to actively listen. This involves calming their breathing, maintaining eye contact, refraining from interrupting, and attempting to fully address the issues at hand.

3. Alleviated stress. The drive that comes from a need for speed is often accompanied by stress and anxiety. That drive also makes it difficult to gracefully respond to interruptions, which can produce negative reactions among team members. Slowing down decreases the risk of showing or provoking negative emotions. For leaders, this is imperative as their influence on their team sets the tone for team behavior and organizational culture.

By slowing down, leaders can effectively prioritize, stay on top of tasks, and remain organized, and therefore will find it much easier to avoid the stress and anxiety that can permeate throughout the organization. While the need to act quickly will present itself from time to time, leaders must slow down enough to respond from a controlled emotional state. Even under pressure, leaders can achieve a sense of calmness and model for team members how to manage themselves by maintaining a steady composure.

4. Strengthened organizational culture. Going too fast leads to making mistakes, diminishes listening skills, and creates stress and anxiety. Yet leaders who know how to slow down, remain present, and think clearly are helping to build a positive culture. Leaders are the drivers of culture, and they must model the behavior they wish to see in the workplace.

Slowing down leaves room for emotional intelligence, ethical behavior, empathy, and compassion. These are all foundational qualities to being a positive leader and leading a successful team. It allows teams to reach their goals, results in employee wellbeing and low turnover, and increases innovation and creativity. At a time when masses of workers are choosing to leave their jobs, leaders can create positive and productive cultures by slowing down.

Any current or aspiring leader hoping to learn and grow can start with the most important leadership strategy: slowing down. By slowing down, leaders cultivate all of the best leadership qualities that will better motivate employees, generate effective decision making, and galvanize a positive culture.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Mary SmithStrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Brian SmithMary Smith has degrees in English and psychology from the University of Redlands, and in organizational leadership from Colorado State University Global. She is co-author with her father, Brian Smith, of the new book, Individual Advantages: Be the “I” in Team (BookBaby, March 2, 2021). Learn more at

A Guide To Keeping Your Employees Happy, Safe & Fulfilled

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Managing Your People|A Guide To Keeping Your Employees Happy, Safe & FulfilledSomething that should be clear when you are looking after any business is just how important the employees are. Without them there, there is nothing that could be done in the company, and you would soon find that it all falls apart. And yet, so many employers fail to really take stock in this way or to fully appreciate the power and importance of their staff, and this can lead to a business which is not moving in the right direction – or, just as bad, not moving in any direction at all.

There are three basic things that you need to be aware of and focus on in order to keep your employees in tact as a force in your business. Firstly, you need to make sure that they are happy to work there, with all that it entails. Secondly, you must ensure that their workplace is safe and that they are safe on the job. Lastly, you should help them in whatever way you can to keep them fulfilled and fully enjoy their work in the deepest sense, day after day. In this article, we will look at each of these in turn, and discuss what you might need to do to ensure that you are making the most of them. As long as you follow this advice, there is no doubt that you will end up with staff who are happy, safe and fulfilled – and who are therefore much more valuable to you, in turn.


Keeping your employees happy might seem like something that is out of your control. After all, they are ultimately responsible for their own happiness, and you might not even feel that it is something you need to concern yourself with. However, the truth is that you do have something of a responsibility in this area, and you should at the very least ensure that you are not doing anything to decrease their overall happiness or make their efforts to be happy any harder for them. This is something you can take on as a manager, and it will make you one of the better managers and leaders out there, so it’s worth thinking about. What exactly can you do, however, to ensure that you are actually going to help keep your employees happy along the way while they work for you?

First of all, you should aim to treat them like people as best as you can. It can often happen in offices in particular that staff get slightly and subtly downtrodden, until eventually the relationship between people is much worse than it should really be. You should aim to avoid this particular catastrophe at all costs, and the way to do that is to ensure that you are treating your employees as the people that they are, day after day, without fail. Saying hello, having polite informal conversations, and just generally respecting the human being that they are are all important towards ensuring that your employees can feel respected in the workplace, and that they can continue to feel like a real person, and not just another cog in the machine. Of course, there will be times of stress when everyone has to buckle down and be a little more like a machine, but generally you can always find time for this kind of genuine human interaction – and if you can’t find time for it ever, something is wrong somewhere.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Managing Your People|A Guide To Keeping Your Employees Happy, Safe & FulfilledBut being happy goes beyond that, and you also need to make sure that you are providing some of the basic facilities that everyone needs at work. There are many of these which are legally necessary, of course, such as having bathrooms and break rooms. But as ever, you should make sure that you are going above and beyond these things, so that you know that you are actually providing everything that you can be in order to have happy employees. The break room should be free of anything which is likely to remind them of work – instead, it should be a safe separate place, and you should also allow your employees to go elsewhere for their breaks, of course, as it is their own time. This stuff is basic, but you also need to make sure that you are offering the right amount of break time, something which a lot of employers do get wrong from time to time.

All in all, keeping your employees happy means that you need to find a way to ensure that they are going to get what they deserve in their work and in the workplace. If you are keeping anything from them, they will inevitably end up feeling not happy, but a little disjointed instead. This is essential, so be sure not to overlook it.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Managing Your People|A Guide To Keeping Your Employees Happy, Safe & FulfilledSafe

All employers know that safety is one of those legal and moral responsibilities which you need to take care of. You will need to take this very seriously, too, as it is the kind of thing that can quickly land you in some deep personal and professional trouble if you get it wrong. But that is not the main reason to be concerned about safety in the workplace. The main reason, of course, is that it is important for your staff, and that is what you need to focus on first and foremost. Whenever you are thinking about the safety in your business, you need to make sure that you are doing whatever is right by your employees firstly – as long as you do that, you should end up with the kind of safety that is actually going to work in the way it needs to. So what should be your primary concerns when it comes to keeping people safe at work?

First up, make sure that the office itself is safe. There are as lot of things you need to do here. You might want to have security installed, including a security team and cameras if necessary, to ensure that no intruders can get in. You will also need to have structural analysis of the building done every six months or so to make sure that there is nothing structurally wrong with it which could end up causing problems for anyone later on. Again, in order to ensure that the place can be kept safe, you will need to make sure that you are focused on having the essential in place in case of an emergency. That means knowing how many fire extinguishers, where they should be put, smoke alarms and the same, and ensuring that you have carried out a fire risk assessment every six months, with a clear plan for evacuation on the wall in every major area of the company.

Once the office is as safe as you can possibly hope for, you will need to think about keeping people personally safe. You need to have one person in a team who is first aid trained, and that should include someone who has been trained in CPR through the AHA instructor network. There should also be a fire safety marshal who can direct people out when there are drills or, of course, real fires. In order to really keep people safe, you will also need to think about training them regularly in their own safety concerns and responsibilities. The more you do that, the more likely it is that they will continue to be safe on the whole.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article |Managing Your People|A Guide To Keeping Your Employees Happy, Safe & FulfilledAs you can see, there is a lot involved to keeping people safe, but it is necessary to do so if you want to make sure that they are truly enjoying their work. Alone, however, happiness and safety are not enough. You also need to make sure that your people are fulfilled. And this is something that is much harder than the last two put together.


What does it mean to be actively fulfilled in a job? Probably, this has slightly different meanings for everyone, but you need to make sure that you are at least doing something in order to help your employees get there, whatever it might mean for them. Actually, there are a few factors which we might say are going to be especially common amongst employees, and as long as you are paying respect to these things you should find that you have a workplace full of basically fulfilled people. So what should you be trying to do to make that happen?

Generally, your staff will be fulfilled if you make a point of making it clear to them how needed they are, what their place is in the grand scheme of the business, and why it matters so much. You should aim to remind them of their importance, as well as giving them the right level of responsibility for it, and more and more as you trust them more. This alone is most of the work of making the job fulfilling for them, but you should also make sure that you speak with them regularly, and do whatever you can to make their work as fulfilling as possible, in whatever way they feel is necessary for them as an individual.

9 Team Building Activities Your Entire Staff Can Enjoy

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | 9 Team Building Activities Your Entire Staff Can EnjoyIn theory, organizing team building activities is a perfect way to get your team to get to know each other outside the office and form a stronger bond within the office as a result. However, finding the right activity for everyone if you are running a company that has multiple departments can be a real challenge.If your workforce is very diverse, there’s a good chance that preferences are going to vary – especially if you have a workforce in which there are employees who are not all the same relative age. This is why you need to find a way to celebrate these differences by choose activities everyone feels comfortable participating in.

Here’s a list of fun team building exercises everyone can participate in and enjoy.

Scavenger Hunt

Purpose: Teamwork

A scavenger hunt is a classic team collaboration game. The rules are easy:

Split your team into equal sized groups and send them out with a list of fun things to find. You can choose whether you want to do this in the office or outside the office. Set a time limit for all groups and put together some fun clues or even riddles that will force your teams to get creative and use not just their eyes but their brains as well! Whichever team comes back with the most items once time has run out is the winner.


Purpose: Communication and problem solving

For this indoor game, you will need an empty room or hallway and a bunch of random office items. You can use office chairs, paper, boxes, anything you have around the office that isn’t too delicate or expensive to create obstacles in the empty space or “minefield.” Divide teams into pairs in which one of them must be blindfolded.

The other one must guide that person from start to finish without setting off any mines. That means they cannot step on any obstacles or venture outside the given boundaries. Their only guidance is the voice of their partner. You can change the number of pairs and obstacles depending on how difficult you want this game to be.

Three Truths and a Lie

Purpose: Getting to know each other

This is a really easy game. Before starting, give each team member four slips of paper where each of them can secretly write down three truths and one lie about themselves. It’s very important that the lie is believable. Instruct them not to reveal to anyone what they wrote down!

Then allow 15 minutes for conversation between the team members. This is the time when everyone should go around the room and talk about their written talking points in random order. The goal here is to convince others that your lie is a truth while you try to guess other people’s lies by asking them different questions. Remember- you should not reveal your truths or lies to other team members, even if everyone else has already guessed everything!

Say My Name

Purpose: Breaking stereotypes

Everyone should write down names (e.g. someone famous) or types of people (e.g. professor, doctor, wealthy, athletic) on name tags. Then put those tags on each team member’s back or forehead so they cannot see who they are but everyone else can.

Give people a few minutes to talk to each other and ask questions. The point is to treat everyone according to stereotypes related to the name on their tag. After each team member figures out who they are, they should exit the game and leave the rest of the people to continue playing. This game allows your employees to have fun and engage in conversation while confronting stereotypes at the same time.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | 9 Team Building Activities Your Entire Staff Can Enjoy
Office Trivia

Purpose: Bonding

This is one of the easiest team building games to put together! All you have to do is come up with a series of questions about your office and then test your team’s knowledge. You can ask a variety of questions such as: “What brand of computer does a certain employee use?” “How many people are in the finance department” or “How many windows are there in the office?” or “Who takes their coffee with cream and sugar?”

Besides bonding people through conversation, this fun and easy team building activity is great for testing how observant people are and how much they know about their office, company and colleagues.

Community Service

Purpose: Enhance teamwork and collaboration

Find an activity that reflects your company values, get out of the office for a day and do something good for your community. This team building activity is not only excellent for getting your employees together and bonding through something that’s incredible positive, it’s also great for the overall image of your company in terms of local marketing.

When businesses go out into their communities and help people in need, the members of the community take notice and reward those businesses with loyalty.

Mural Painting

Purpose: Enhancing creativity

For this fun and creative team building activity you will need paint, brushes and something to paint on. It can be a canvas or a wall of your building/office. The point is to give each member of the team complete freedom to paint whatever they want. Give them a general theme and then let everyone create their own colorful masterpieces.

If you are giving an individual canvas to each employee, put them together and display them in your office as a mural once they are dry. Some people might refuse to paint at first because they don’t think they are talented, so make sure you explain to everyone that this is not a contest. This game’s purpose is to show that everyone has a creative side once they overcome their fears of showing it.

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | 9 Team Building Activities Your Entire Staff Can Enjoy
Make Your Logo

Purpose: Problem solving

Start by asking everyone to empty their pockets, purses and wallets and gather all the coins you can find and then place the coins on a table in front of you. Each team member should create their own logo for the company or team using the coins in front of them in one minute.

You may also use pens, notebooks, paper and anything you else you have around the office to create the logo. The logo can represent the team members individually or you can work together to create a logo for the department or even the entire organization. It’s a fun and creative game that encourages resourcefulness.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Purpose: Communication skills

For this team building activity, you will need a small piece of paper for each employee and a list of well-known “couples” such as peanut butter and jelly, Romeo and Juliet, salt and pepper, and so on. Each team member should wear the name of one half of each pair on their backs.

Have everyone mingle and try to figure out the word on their backs while only asking each other “Yes or No” questions. Once they figure out their word, they have to find the other half of their pair. As they find each other, have them sit down while the rest of the team continues until everyone has connected with their pair.

About the Author

Tamara Luzajic is a web content writer and editor, currently working as a copywriter at Humanity, employee scheduling and workforce management software.

Leaders: Stop Standing in the Way

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Strategy|Leaders: Stop Standing in the WayCollege graduates often get the same career advice: be yourself, disrupt the status quo. Meanwhile, their future employers cling to status quo by putting people in boxes and telling them what to do, in the name of efficiency or team cohesion.

People are frustrated and exhausted, not from overwork but from a particularly demoralizing kind of “underwork.” They’ve got skills, ideas and talents that they want to use but can’t, because to do so would disrupt everyone who finds comfort in the status quo.

Most organizations and leaders say they want to empower people to contribute at their fullest capacity. But most leaders are never taught how to do that.

We’re stuck in the age of standardization – an age when organizations didn’t see the need to value one’s individuality or personal perspectives.

But as a society, we are more diverse than ever. We are more informed than ever. We are aware of and proud of our individuality. We’ve entered the age of personalization, but our leadership strategies have not caught up.

If we don’t interrupt ourselves the cycle will continue.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Leaders: Stop Standing in the WayStop emphasizing conformity.

People feel boxed in because they are boxed in. In our workplaces we have fooled ourselves into thinking we have welcomed diversity of thought (a phrase we love to throw around) – when in actuality we have built shrines to conformity. We hire people who think just like we do, and we reward and promote people only when they meet the standards set by someone else.

Does your organization have a system for training leaders to identify individual capability when hiring or forming teams, so that everyone can look beyond experience and education as the only indicators of potential and invite new thinking into the mix? Inclusion is an action that constructively interrupts the process of always seeking more of what’s familiar.

Stop hiring for ‘the right fit.’

That’s code for you need to be just like everyone else. Your individuality is not welcome here.

Sure, most people want someone who is easy to get along with, in the name of productivity. They want someone who is easy to work alongside, in the name of efficiency. They want someone who is easy to like, in the name of team cohesion. Those are all great things for a team to achieve.

But too often productivity, efficiency and cohesion become the goals themselves, and the pursuit of those gets in the way of the original objective – which might be better served by a wider range of personalities and working styles.

It’s easier to be with and work with people who are similar to us. But if we really want to expand the capacity of our teams and our people, we have to interrupt our preference for ease and invite the discomfort of working closely with people who think differently.

Gear up.

If you threaten the status quo, the status quo fights back. Hard. People who have made the rules and benefitted from those rules are not happy when those rules change – even if that change is good and necessary and just.

Most organizations operate in a certain way: follow this path, get this experience, demonstrate these skills, move up the ladder rung by rung. A subset of people have benefitted from this system the way it is, but they don’t see the system at work because they’ve never bumped up against it. When that system changes, they lash out.

But disrupting the status quo is worth it.

Leaders everywhere tell me they have felt restricted their entire professional lives, and they want to be free to be who they are and empower others to contribute at the highest levels of their individual capacity.

This is where to start.

About the Author
StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Glenn LlopisGlenn Llopis is a Cuban-American entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and senior advisor to fortune 500 companies and organizations in healthcare, financial, consumer packaged goods and beyond.

The 3 Most Important Responsibilities of a Manager

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Responsibilities of Manager |The 3 Most Important Responsibilities of a ManagerWhen starting out in their careers, many employees will want to ascend their company’s hierarchy with the aim of taking on more managerial roles in the future. However, to become an effective leader, there are a number of elements that you need to consider in order to both lead your employees and run the business to its maximum potential.

Business Growth

As a manager, you will be expected to focus on the best ways to improve the business and make large profits during your tenure by finding new ways to increase your margins. One of the best ways that you can do this as a manager is to cut the running costs of the business. There are many ways to do this in the steed of the business owner, and these include suggesting that you switch energy suppliers to cut down on your energy bills. If this sounds like the best option for your workplace, Utility Bidder allows you to compare business energy prices from multiple companies to find the right provider for your workplace.

You can also encourage business growth by managing the marketing team and finding new ways to boost sales. This can include holding competitions and promotional deals if you have a retail store, or utilizing social media and SEO to improve your digital marketing technique.

You can also make the business more efficient by replacing old machinery and equipment and by looking into the best modern machinery and technological office supplies.

How to Lead Employees

The most important role that you will have is to manage the employees under your leadership in an efficient way. There are many ways that you can boost employee productivity in a positive manner, and this includes methods such as offering rewards schemes and incentives such as pay rises, which you can agree with the business owner, and offering regular praise to employees. You can also help to boost morale by organizing payrolls and employee holidays efficiently, as well as making sure that there are always enough staff members to run the business efficiently on any one day.

You should also offer employees regular training days to ensure that they are able to hone their skills during their tenure and be reminded of some of the key processes of your business. It is also important that you are able to lead your employees by dealing with any problems. You can do this by holding an annual review meeting for every employee where you can discuss these issues and set targets for the future, which they will be able to work towards.

However, you should always remember to delegate responsibility to employees to make them feel valued and ensure that there is only a limited amount of pressure placed upon yourself.

Communication With Clientele

As a manager, you will also be on the frontline between your workforce and your customers, and so it is important that you are able to have customer communication techniques in place to help you deal with any issues. For instance, it is vital that you ensure that customers return to the business, and you can do this by sorting problems by offering promotions and discounts, as well as feedback and good complaints methods, to those who have had issues with your business.

You should also communicate with clients by using social media and e-mail marketing to tell clients new information about the business and make sure that they are aware of any offers that may be available.