The Pace of Leadership

As a marathoner, I’ve learned a little about the importance of pace.  To run the 26.2 miles of a marathon well, maintaining the right pace is critical.  Your pace needs to be steady and it needs to be one your body and your mind can handle for the entire distance.  Go too fast and you’ll tire early and maybe even end up walking to the finish line.  Go too slow even, with the hope of saving your strength and speeding up later, and you may miscalculate and still miss your finish time goal.

Pace is just as important for shorter races.  Whether 5K races – 3.1 miles, or 8K’s or 10K’s or half-marathons, runners need to keep the right pace.  Each race is different and requires a different pace and pace strategy.  It can take years for a runner to get to a point where they are proficient at pacing.

I remember my first few years of marathoning.  I ran a marathon a year for three years and it wasn’t until that third marathon that it started to click how important it was to keep the right pace.  Walking much of the last few miles to the finish line was a little embarrassing.  It took a couple more years before I could hold a steady pace and the correct pace for the race I was running.

I’ve found leadership is the same.  There is no one best leadership style or one best way to be a leader.  Every situation is different and each one requires the proper leadership style or in essence, the proper leadership pace.  Go too fast and you’ll “hit the wall.”  Go to slow and you’ll miss your finish time goal.  Early in my career, I held leadership positions with little experience, and sadly, little training.  I learned the hard way and made mistakes just like in my first few marathons.  Over time, often through trial by fire, I learned.

Some situations require leadership to be more fast paced or direct, “Please get this done asap,” or, “Fire! Evacuate the building immediately!”  Other situations require leadership to be a bit slower paced or supportive, “Let’s talk this through,” or, “Why don’t you sleep on that and get back to me.”  Knowing which leadership style to bring to a situation is critical to being an effective leader.  Go too fast with a new employee and you may overwhelm them or leave them without the proper knowledge, tools, or training to do a good job.  Go too slow with an experienced employee and they may feel micromanaged.

Just like training for a marathon or some other race, it takes a willingness to learn, practice, and persevere, to get to a point where you can confidently provide the correct leadership style for a given situation.  Your first few tries may not turn out quite the way you intended, but over time, maybe even over the course of a few years, you’ll learn which pace is best for each race and which leadership style is best for each situation.  Lead on!

If you would like to learn more about pacing either for a marathon or for leadership, contact me at: ernest@ealewisconsulting.com

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About Ernest Lewis

Ernest is owner of E.A. Lewis Consulting where he helps individuals and organizations achieve their personal best! He provides executive and business coaching services including leadership development, team building, continuous improvement, and strategic planning support. Ernest is also a writer, motivational speaker, father of three, and loves to RUN!
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