The Pause Principle

Kevin Cashman, the Korn/Ferry senior partner and author of The Pause Principle I cited earlier in the book, speaks about the way in which creative pauses are an absolutely essential ingredient to clearer leadership thinking and renewed relationships within and outside one’s organization. According to Kevin, “Management effectiveness involves doing more with greater efficiency and speed, while leadership effectiveness involves doing [things] differently by slowing down to transform complexity to clarity. … Managers assert drive and control to get things done; leaders pause to discover new ways of being and achieving.” In good consulting style, he has sketched out this very helpful two-by-two matrix:

SOURCE: Courtesy of Kevin Cashman.


I think Kevin really gets it right. Low complexity combined with little reflection represents a merely repetitive, transactional environment, but things (as we know) are getting more complicated by the minute; high complexity with little reflection means being literally hyperactive, the increasingly common (and not actually productive) state of being in perpetual motion—the well-known action-hero persona. Of course too much reflection can mean being hypoactive, all thought and no action. But today’s incredibly complex business and policy situations demand of us an adequate level of pause and reflection if we want to be truly transformative. ...

Get Beating the Global Odds: Successful Decision-making in a Confused and Troubled World now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.