The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward

The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward

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by Kevin Cashman

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We live and lead in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. But paradoxically, Kevin Cashman contends that leaders today must not merely act more quickly but pause more deeply. He details a catalytic process to guide you to step back in order to lead forward in three critical growth areas: personal leadership, development of others, and


We live and lead in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. But paradoxically, Kevin Cashman contends that leaders today must not merely act more quickly but pause more deeply. He details a catalytic process to guide you to step back in order to lead forward in three critical growth areas: personal leadership, development of others, and fostering of cultures of innovation. You and your organization will learn to move from management speed and transaction to leadership significance and transformation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“To thrive and to innovate in today’s complex, globally connected world, leaders need sophisticated ways to step back to understand what they are facing within and outside themselves. The Pause Principle provides pragmatic resources for making the critical move from management efficiency to leadership excellence.”
—Daniel Vasella, MD, Chairman, Novartis

“Kevin Cashman’s latest must-read book focuses on the essence of leadership: being consciously reflective before we act. Incorporating Cashman’s ideas into your daily practices will transform you as a leader.”
—Bill George, author of True North; Professor, Harvard Business School; and former Chairman and CEO, Medtronic

“Here a veteran coach shares his long experience to help busy executives deal with the question, In my rush for success, how do I help my soul to breathe and my mind to renew? His answer echoes an ancient tradition: withdraw and return; reflect and act. I recommend this book wholeheartedly to everyone who is trying to lead a better life.”
—Dick Bolles, author of the bestselling career management book of all time, What Color Is Your Parachute?

“Leadership is a continual process of stepping back to get new perspectives in order to step forward with greater innovation and impact. Cashman captures the essence of leading in our dynamic, global marketplace.”
—Paul Walsh, CEO, Diageo plc, and former Chairman and CEO, The Pillsbury Company

Product Details

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
BK Business
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Barnes & Noble
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2 MB

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Read an Excerpt


SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I SIGNED BOOKS at BookExpo America at McCormick Place in Chicago. It is a huge event with thousands of people and hundreds of authors. Every half-hour or so, thirty-two authors step out from behind a velvet curtain to sign books at an elevated podium. Attendees line up in long rows and patiently wait to receive their signed copies. While it had a bit too much formality for my taste, it was still a big deal for me.
Lining up behind the curtain with the other thirty-one authors, I noticed that to my right was George Stephanopoulos, chief political correspondent for ABC News, formerly White House communications director and senior advisor for policy and strategy during President Bill Clinton’s administration. Although George looked like a teenager, he was unfazed by the event—cool, calm, and collected, which was in complete contrast to my visible enthusiasm. When we took our spots at our elevated podiums, George’s line was long. It went on forever, wrapping around the corner beyond our sight. My line of people numbered a paltry seven. At first, I cycled through reactive embarrassment, insecurity, and disbelief. I thought, “Am I in the correct spot?” Then, I paused. Stepping back for a moment, I caught myself and reflected, “How do I best deal with this situation?” This short moment of reflection gave me renewed clarity and purpose. “This isn’t about me. It’s about those seven people, and I will graciously, generously give them my full attention.” Once I made that shift, I had a great time. By connecting deeply, I learned a little about each individual, then I signed each book. It became a wonderful experience.

After a little while, I looked up at my line. A small miracle had happened. I now had a long line of people awaiting my signature. I glanced over at George, and his line had emptied. Apparently his books had not arrived, and he had been dashing off his signature on photos of himself as substitutes without taking much time to talk with people. Evidently, word had gotten out: “You want a photo or a personally signed book from Cashman?” Even George noticed the shift and said, “You must have a great book.” I responded, “Sure is. You want a copy?” Feigning importance, I signed one for him. The truth is I felt bad for him. I wouldn’t have been very happy if my books hadn’t shown up, and clearly his disappointing circumstances helped turn the tide for me and created my surprising book wave. Reflecting on this example and the thousands of other intentional pauses I have had the privilege to witness with clients over the years, it has become clear: Pause powers performance.

How often do we miss these small but significant moments? These key opportunities that can unlock our hearts and minds, open us up, and connect us more deeply with others so that we can create something new and different. All too often, we allow ourselves to be carried away by our busy-ness. We are too hyperactive, too reactive to even notice the hidden value-creating dynamics waiting just under the surface within us and around us. Tethered to our smartphones, we are too caught up and distracted to take the time necessary to sort through complexity or to locate submerged purpose. In our urgent rush to get “there,” we are going everywhere but being nowhere. Far too busy managing with transactive speed, we rarely step back to lead with transformative significance.

Too often, we take for granted our simplest yet most profound and transformative human capabilities. Sleep, for instance, is on the surface very simple. We lie down, sleep, and when we wake up, we have renewed energy, vitality, and perspective. Our superficial analysis of sleep says, “Yeah, no big deal. We rest and wake up. So what?” But take a moment to consider how profound sleep really is. Every night we go to sleep fatigued and possibly stressed from the day. Maybe we even have a little tightness or muscle ache somewhere in our body. When we awaken we feel completely rejuvenated. The muscle ache has gone away and the mental stress along with it. We feel energized physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Sleep is an amazing, natural capability for transformation. However, we can abuse this inherent gift with overwork, increased stress, and too much stimulation. Imagine how challenging our lives would be if we lost this ability to rest, heal, and restore. In extreme cases of overtaxation and hyper-fatigue, individuals experience burnout, serious illness requiring hospitalization or even death because the restorative process has been compromised by neglect. The French call this surmenage. Sleep is a natural, transformative process that cannot be ignored if we hope to operate at peak levels of performance.

What sleep is to the mind and body, pause is to leadership and innovation. Pause transforms management into leadership and the status quo into new realities. Pause, the natural capability to step back in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum, and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context. While losing touch with our ability to pause may be less obvious than losing our ability to rest, it can be just as devastating. Pause, like sleep, is a natural transformative process that cannot be ignored if we want to operate at peak levels of performance. In our fast-paced, achieve-more-now culture, the loss of pause potential is epidemic. For many it has been lost, ignored, or completely abandoned; for others it is unfamiliar, an unknown.

A prominent, hard-charging CEO came into my office one day, fell into a chair, released a deep sigh, and said, “I don’t know how to put into words what I am feeling. People around me seem to think that I am doing well. My board is happy. But, I am feeling like I have lost my edge a bit. If I am totally transparent, I am not feeling quite as focused, passionate, energetic, and patient anymore. I even sometimes question why I am working so hard. What is the point?” As we spent time together, it became clear that he had slowly, over time, lost connection with his deeper sense of self, his relationships, and his purpose by overtaxing his drive and underinvesting in pause, reflection, and renewal. In the early stages of his career, he just pushed through situations with more and more force, drawing on his considerable will, intelligence, and experience to get through. Later, as he was rapidly expanding and elevating the scope of his responsibilities, he began to disconnect a bit from relationships, as well as from the generative pleasure of taking time to listen, support, and mentor others. Eventually, he got so caught up in doing and achieving that he rarely, if ever, stepped back to get a fresh perspective or consider a new alternative. He took less vacation, pulled back on his fitness regime, gained 20 pounds, was more short-tempered at home, and had this nagging, just-below-the-surface feeling: “Is this all there is?” Having lost touch with his natural pause potential, he coped by pushing harder with more will and control, unknowingly leaving behind his purpose-driven ability to inspire, restore, and innovate.

Managers assert drive and control to get things done; leaders pause to discover new ways of being and achieving.

The demanding pace for global leaders has never been more challenging. Digitally connected every moment, we are increasingly tied to a 24-hour global clock. We are expected to perform continually in the face of global crises and multifaceted pressures, including downsizing and mergers, and the related stresses and expectations. The list of demands, personal and professional, never ends. This is the “new normal.” Could it be that going faster and driving harder are not the answers? Could there be another way to creatively sustain high performance? Could it be that the source of our real value as leaders might come from different thinking and different choices rather than from perpetuation of the incessant pace we are straining to maintain?

I had the privilege of sharing some precious time with a colleague who was terminally ill. Aware of the compression of time, we dove into some authentic conversations about life. At one point, I got the courage to ask him, “Bob, what do you want leaders to never forget?” His wise response was, “Never forget to slow down, connect with people, and do something that is meaningful. Never go so fast that you forget that love and service make life worth living.” Slow down? Meaning? Love? Service? As Bob faced his mortality, he had deeper clarity about what brings authentic vitality to living.
David, a seventy-four-year-old chairman of a public company, also shared his life-leadership wisdom: “Early in our careers we use our drive, energy, and ambition to propel us through the ranks. We make things happen. However, as we advance, and if we are self-aware, life begins to teach us new lessons—lessons of humility, reliance on others, and lessons that the whole . . . the bigger picture . . . is more important than we are. Why? The sheer scale and complexity of responsibilities, as well as the consequences to people are too challenging to go it alone. The earlier we learn to view life from this different perspective, the sooner we can line up with what’s most important and figure out how to make our best contribution. If we don’t learn these more people-centered, service-driven lessons until later, our path is much harsher. We spend our energies in battles for control, dominance, and the self-focused drive required to win rather than invested in meaningful service. Step back often. Reflect, and become more aware of yourself, your colleagues, and your mission. The earlier you do this in your career the more productive and fulfilling your leadership and your life will be.”

For several years, I had the privilege of being a keynote speaker at one of the Army War College’s leadership programs. I was humbled by how much I learned there, particularly about character-driven leadership and a potent perspective of our world called “VUCA.” Borrowing this term from the Army War College, Bob Johansen, ten-year forecaster and author of Get There Early and Leaders Make the Future, has characterized the speed- and action-oriented, fast-changing, demanding world we lead in today as a “VUCA world: Volatile; Unpredictable; Complex; Ambiguous.” Our addiction to action, our busy-ness, our preoccupation with incessant distractions and pursuit of the ubiquitous “more” in our 24/7, constantly connected, globally caffeinated culture conspire to diminish rather than strengthen our leadership capacities. We challenge ourselves to keep up, even hasten the grueling pace, and, frankly, we rationalize that it comes with the territory. Paradoxically, the job of leaders is to bring clarity to all this chaos. Warren Bennis mentors, “Leaders bring clarity and hope.” No easy task in the vortex of VUCA.

Johansen contends that we have “to flip the VUCA forces to terms that create possibilities and redefine VUCA as: Vision; Understanding; Clarity; Agility.” We agree. But, how do we bring about this transformation? Pause—a step back to lead forward—a transformative, pragmatic, albeit paradoxical principle for sorting through complexity and coming into conscious connection with what is important. Daniel Vasella, M.D., chairman of Novartis, who has been acknowledged as one of the most innovative leaders in the life sciences business in history and navigated the firm as CEO for more than fifteen years to its current status as a $58 billion life sciences powerhouse, shared with me, “Pause gives room to oneself and to others. It allows the digestion of things both conceptual, and emotional. Pause can be a way to sense-making by bringing together a more integrated, complete picture of what is happening in and around us.”
For most leaders, at first glance, pausing to elevate performance is incongruous with their leadership DNA, especially for the most productive, highest achievers. Over the past thirty years of coaching CEOs, senior teams, and senior leaders around the globe, I have lost track of the number of times a high-achieving leader turned to me and asked, “Kevin, how can we step up to achieve more?” To their surprise and discomfort, I often recommend stepping back—pausing—but, because it is antithetical to what they have always done, they insist, “We don’t need to pause more, we need to do more.”

Why would pragmatic, hard-charging, achievement-driven leaders pause in order to accelerate performance and growth? Put simply, that is exactly what is needed to sort through complexity and then drive performance to the next level. If leaders today do not step back to gain fresh perspective and to transcend the immediacies of life, we will continue to crash economically, personally, and collectively. Our downside survival and upside innovation depend on transformative pause. Certainly, we need to do more to meet the demands of high-performance, complex problems, and innovation, but in today’s world the doing needs to be new and different.

Pause is a universal principle inherent in living, creative systems. It is part of the order, value, and growth that arises from slowing down and stepping back. In physics, it is the second Law of Thermodynamics: As activity lessens, order increases. The Pause Principle is present in economies, physiologies, ecologies, communities, organizations, and nations. We observe pause on the macro and the micro levels as a principle of life and leadership, a natural part of the continuum that catalyzes growth, innovation, and transformation. Like any valuable resource, yet unrecognized and therefore neglected, we have to explore and discover its pragmatic uses in order to experience its value-creating impact. Additionally, we need to learn totap into pause, incorporating it in our lives and leadership, and leveraging it as a powerful resource, an innovation in and of itself.

The Pause Principle is the conscious, intentional process of stepping back, within ourselves and outside of ourselves, to lead forward with greater authenticity, purpose, and contribution. This value-creating methodology allows more examination, higher-order logic, rational analysis, more profound questioning, deeper listening, higher-quality presence, broader perspective, greater openness to diverse thinking and input, and ultimately more impactful, influential, and innovative action.
Paradoxically, pause powers purposeful performance.

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, Nobel Prize winner in economic sciences, and author of Thinking, Fast and Slow, has discerned two critical systems that determine the way we think. He counsels us to be careful with our “fast thinking,” the overconfident system that is absolutely sure of opinions, impressions, and judgment. This part of our mind generates ideas quickly without much consideration. When we think fast in complex or new situations, we unknowingly limit our options to what we know from the past or habituated patterns. This is dangerous in a VUCA world, which requires more forward-looking agility at every turn. As Kahneman says, “We are normally blind about our own blindness. We’re generally overconfident in our opinions and our impressions and judgments. We exaggerate how knowable the world is. . . . What psychology and behavioral economics have shown is that people don’t think very carefully.”

Incorporating pause as a best practice can change that. Ron James, CEO, Center for Ethical Business Cultures, University of St. Thomas, explains:

Our culture is based on speed and decisiveness, and it’s tough to pause when you are always “on.” Pausing for self-talk about what really matters and incorporating that in our decisions so we act with ethics and integrity is exactly what we need to do. We need to have a set of principles that guides our decisions and behavior. That begins with asking, “What do I stand for? What does the organization stand for?” Although it takes more time up front, pause allows for a richer decision, engages others, and creates a sense of power and early buy-in that impacts execution.

Leaders, especially, when faced with complexity and ambiguity, need to pause and “slow the picture down” to see multiple options, multiple futures more effectively.

Fast thinking is the domain of management transaction, whereas slow thinking is the leadership domain of strategic, innovative transformation.

If we are going to flip the VUCA forces to Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility, pragmatic practices, or Pause Points, will help us focus our attention and our energy, to grow, to create, to solve problems, and to innovate. Pause Points will provide a way to instill a consistent, intentional manner for reflection by:
- Building self-awareness and clarity of purpose
- Exploring new ideas
- Risking experimentation
- Questioning, listening, and synthesizing
- Challenging the status quo, within and around us

Taking steps back during the process of reading the book to consider Pause Points will integrate foundational, reliable structures into our leadership development experience. These Pause Points will help to make pause an intentional practice—a new normal—as the transformative benefits activate, show up, and multiply.

Pause can take many forms as practices in our lives. Some help us focus attention and deeper understanding on self-awareness through intentional learning and growth on our own or with our teams; others help us defocus, rest, connect, or become more resilient and more creative. Still other pause practices help us discern what deserves our attention within and outside of ourselves.

Of the 100+ leaders we interviewed, nearly every one told us that there is so much coming at us at once, we need to pause to figure out what is important and what is not. Pause Points, whether structured or spontaneous, can help us do that. They are tools to help us regain our balance, feel grounded, and centered. They can help us be accountable to our commitments, our mission, and to people. Pause Points can help us intentionally imbue generativity, innovation, and a sense of meaningful service in our cultures. These are powerful opportunities for flipping the VUCA forces and for achieving not merely higher performance, but lasting, value-creating impact. In The Pause Principle, you will discover and experience many Pause Points to take pause from principle to practice. Let’s do our first Pause Point together.

Take a moment to envision your life at its optimal state of performance. Expand this vision beyond your career to all domains of your life. Imagine your career at its most purposeful and value creating . . . your key relationships and family in deep connection and love . . . your self-awareness genuine and authentic . . . your creativity and innovation at their peaks . . . your mind, body and spirit energized and enlivened. Then, ask yourself:
- What shifts did I make in myself and my life to get here?
- What new choices did I make to create these possibilities?
- How did I step back to see myself, others, my vocation, and my health in new ways?
- How did I pause more deeply into myself to gain deeper insight and perspective?
- How did I more deeply listen, be present, and connect to others at a new level?
- How did I step back to collaborate more synergistically with others to create the new and the different?
- How did these powerful pauses help me to step forward and perform in new ways?
Go deeply into the questions that have the most resonance for you. Take your time. Resist the hyperactive temptation to rush through this opportunity to slow things down. . . . Pause to sort through the complexity and the fog to get clarity and insight.

Daily runs, an intensive coaching and development program, a meditation practice, reflecting and pacing in a laboratory, or an annual strategic planning retreat—all are forms of pausing for growth, heightening awareness, catalyzing cognition, and aligning what is important. Pause can even catalyze our creativity. Scientists know little about how creativity works in the brain. One thing that is clear: “taking a break by going for a walk, taking a shower, or going for a drive . . . letting things percolate . . . helps ideas surface.” Pausing or slowing down catalyzes those Aha! moments, those flashes of insight that come to you when you are not focusing on a problem, but instead taking a swim, walking to the train, or merely relaxing by a stream. As Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote, “When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer—say traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal . . . it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly.”

Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, says science tells us that creativity and imagination require both disciplined, focused effort and a sense of freedom and abandonment. “There is no universal prescription for creative thinking.” Instead, there are a variety of processes. “A big epiphany relies on a very different set of brain structures than the editing that comes afterward.” When he’s really stuck, Lehrer says, “I think about all that research on moments of insight which suggest that insights are far more likely to arrive when we’re relaxed, and better able to eavesdrop on the murmurs of the unconscious. Instead of staying at my desk, I go for a long walk.” He quotes Einstein as saying “Creativity is the residue of time wasted,” and says, “I guess you could say I’ve gotten much better at wasting time.”

Although some creative solutions require conscious effort, others emerge when we rest or step back . . . pause in some way. What may appear as a little “time wasted,” may be the vital field from which our next innovative idea arises. Even sleep or power naps have a measured impact on cognitive connections that can impact problem solving. Pause is our inherent tendency and our intentional practice to grow, to let new ideas emerge, to move beyond what is to gather insight, energy, and purpose.

But pausing, stepping back, is not only about defocusing or relaxing. Our most pragmatic and powerful pause practices for dealing with complexity, crises, and for innovating may be a practice of stepping back for intense, focused inquiry—questioning, experimenting, observing, listening, evaluating—a continuous loop of reflection and action followed by more disciplined reflection and action.

Researchers Michelle Barton and Kathleen Sutcliffe make a hard case for what business leaders can learn from firefighters, who put their lives on the line every day to battle wild fires and save lives. Their research convincingly showed that more successful outcomes occurred when leaders paused, stopped momentum to encourage fire-fighting teams to challenge the current strategy, voice concerns, examine all the current information, and determine the best course of action rather than persist in blind dedication to the original plan. Through intentional interruptions, team members questioned, spoke up, and did not defer to someone else’s perceived expertise.

In “Learning When to Stop Momentum,” published in MIT Sloan Management Review, the researchers tell us, “When engrossed in an action, we tend not to notice small problems that may grow into large ones. To overcome dysfunctional momentum, we have to be interrupted or create an interruption ourselves . . . points at which we can ask: What’s the story now? Is it the same story as before? If not, how has it changed? And how, if at all, should we adjust our actions?” They explain further, “Once we’re fully engaged in our plans and activities, we have a tendency to continue what we’re doing—that is, to resist changing our course even when redirection might be for the best.”

Barton and Sutcliffe recommend developing “an attitude of wisdom” characterized by a practice of “situated humility,” pausing for different perspectives, and questioning: “How might the future differ from our expectations? How might changes or problems in one part of the business unexpectedly affect other parts? What parts of the situation can’t we see? Try to create healthy skepticism about what you know and a greater awareness of what you don’t know.” By pausing or creating interruptions, we create opportunities to engage and encourage team members to challenge the status quo, to speak up and voice concerns, and to be skeptical of perceived experts. It is a proactive way for leaders to let team members know that they are actively seeking all news—bad or good—and that they are open to diverse perspectives. These are recurring themes in what distinguishes a manager from a leader. Managers tend to consistently execute well-formulated, time-tested approaches, while leaders tend to find new ways to step into changing circumstances.

Leaders who pause to develop the agility required to dance with VUCA forces open up possibilities.

Leaders must intentionally pause . . . slow things down . . . to access and develop the capability for what W. Brian Arthur, founding head of the Economics Program at the Santa Fe Institute, describes as a deeper level of cognition . . . a “knowing” that comes from inside yourself. He says that when faced with a complicated situation, ideally he would “observe, observe, observe and then simply retreat. . . . You wait and wait and let your experience well up into something appropriate. In a sense, there is no decision-making. What to do becomes obvious.” This inner knowing comes from a place within us so it requires a deeper awareness and understanding of who we are.

My good friend and colleague, Richard Leider, is author of The Power of Purpose ; his life’s work is about living and leading connected to your purpose, your authentic self, and to what is truly meaningful. In his work, he sometimes refers to a deep pause as a “purpose moment.” Richard is a committed practitioner of pause, and he guides others in pauses small and big. His annual “Back to the Rhythm” expedition in Tanzania is a big pause—one month on a walking safari, “off the grid,” without cell phones, Internet, or e-mail. This is an experience for reconnecting with nature, the Earth, quiet, solitude, and to another way of living, as part of a sharing community, in order to also reconnect with what makes us feel genuine happiness. Disconnected from the demands of the VUCA world, we pause to reconnect with ourselves, “to quiet our own chatter,” to listen to others around us in a simpler place, in a different world where it is more conducive to stepping back. By doing so, we connect again with our own heart and mind and really listen to our own voice about what is most important and meaningful, so we can then listen more genuinely and contribute more generously to others.

One of the most challenging developmental shifts for executives is the evolution from management effectiveness to leadership excellence. Research has demonstrated that if managers do not make the critical development move to increased interpersonal collaboration and high-order strategic agility, they will plateau in their careers. The transition is one from expertise and control to authenticity and shared purpose. This crucial evolution requires sufficient, intentional pause to build self-awareness, foster team collaboration, and increase strategic innovation. Pause is a catalytic process that has the potential, if practiced consciously, to bring forth transformative shifts to move from management to leadership. Seven key shifts from management effectiveness to leadership excellence that we address in this book are
1. Moving from self-centeredness to self-awareness and service
2. Moving from people dominance and control to people development and liberation
3. Moving from complexity and confusion to clarity and hope
4. Moving from a presumption of knowing and expertise to listening and learning
5. Moving from heroic, unchallenged ideas to collaborative, constructive engagement
6. Moving from the status quo to curiosity, exploration, synthesis, and innovation
7. Moving from accuracy and efficiency to purpose and transformation
One of the primary contributions of this book is to discern precisely how specific types of pause can be the prime movers in the transformation from management to leadership.

Mike Paxton, former CEO of Häagen-Dazs, former president of Pillsbury and CEO of Chamilia, reenergizes with regular runs and time with his family. He sketches out complex situations to get clarity by writing them down because that helps him prepare when stepping forward with new initiatives. Steve Piersanti, founder and president, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, practices pause in multiple ways. At the beginning of every staff meeting, he asks for a moment of silence. He intentionally schedules meetings and sets meeting agendas so that they offer recurring opportunities to pause and thoughtfully consider all aspects of Berrett-Koehler’s business. He, too, writes to gather his thoughts, reflect, and garner new understanding to clarify decisions.
David Rothenberger, M.D., surgeon at University of Minnesota, has partnered with clinicians across the Fairview Health System to share a powerful pause practice recently established for all surgical procedures. “Brief” is a few moments taken before every surgical procedure to make sure that everyone on the surgical team, everyone in the room understands why they are there, what the procedure is, and what their shared goal is. “Brief” connects everyone to the value of their individual roles, as well as to their combined impact as a team. In addition to reconnecting everyone to a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in their healing mission, it shifts their mind-set from a hero mentality to a collaborative one and serves the vital objective of increasing the percentages of more positive outcomes.

Karen Kimsey-House, cofounder and CEO of Coaches Training Institute, likes to build in a structure to reflect, create, and connect with vision, purpose, and direction. She takes retreats, sometimes as long as eleven days, “to stop, to be, and to reflect,” because she returns with expanded vision and new ideas for direction. Rohinish Hooda, vice president, U.S. sales and marketing, Ethicon Biosurgery, Johnson & Johnson, incorporates a continuous practice of pausing to question and think. He has initiated BIG—Biosurgery Idea Gurus—as a way to bring together many people working in different aspects of biosurgery to pause to share ideas and gain different perspectives in hopes that this collaboration will energize and accelerate innovation.

Pablo Gaito, vice president of human resources, Cargill, has integrated a powerful practice he calls “Five-Minute Synchronization” to help everyone, whether physically in the room or virtually in the room from places around the globe, to be present at meetings. It begins with a moment of silence and includes a few minutes of focused, inspired thought. Pablo spends time with his family, maintains a fitness regime, and paints on canvas to restore. Jeff George, global head of Sandoz, practices meditation daily to balance his drive with deeper connection.

These leaders are conscious, pragmatic practitioners of pause, and we think they are examples of what is to come. In an article on reshaping the workplace for the New York Times, David Allen contends that we need more space, figuratively and literally, to counter “the dizzying number of [technological] options” that overwhelm us. He says that paradoxically they don’t necessarily make us more productive. In fact, they are paralyzing. There is an antidote, “but it’s not going to come from the usual quarters. To be successful in the new world of work, we need to create a structure for capturing, clarifying, and organizing all the forces that assail us; and to ensure time and space for thinking, reflecting and decision making.”

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“To thrive and to innovate in today’s complex, globally connected world, leaders need sophisticated ways to step back to understand what they are facing within and outside themselves. The Pause Principle provides pragmatic resources for making the critical move from management efficiency to leadership excellence.”
—Daniel Vasella, MD, Chairman, Novartis

“Kevin Cashman’s latest must-read book focuses on the essence of leadership: being consciously reflective before we act. Incorporating Cashman’s ideas into your daily practices will transform you as a leader.”
—Bill George, author of True North; Professor, Harvard Business School; and former Chairman and CEO, Medtronic

“Here a veteran coach shares his long experience to help busy executives deal with the question, In my rush for success, how do I help my soul to breathe and my mind to renew? His answer echoes an ancient tradition: withdraw and return; reflect and act. I recommend this book wholeheartedly to everyone who is trying to lead a better life.”
—Dick Bolles, author of the bestselling career management book of all time, What Color Is Your Parachute?

“Leadership is a continual process of stepping back to get new perspectives in order to step forward with greater innovation and impact. Cashman captures the essence of leading in our dynamic, global marketplace.”
—Paul Walsh, CEO, Diageo plc, and former Chairman and CEO, The Pillsbury Company

Meet the Author

Kevin Cashman is senior partner, CEO and Executive Development, Korn/Ferry International. He is also the founder of the Chief Executive Institute®, a senior fellow of the Caux Roundtable, a board member of the Center for Ethical Business Cultures, and is the author of the bestselling classic Leadership from the Inside Out. He has been ranked a Top Ten Thought Leader by Executive Excellence magazine.

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The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kevin's best work. An easy read, but it is a heavy emotional and transformational lift. Do I have the will to do it?
NathanIves More than 1 year ago
The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forwardby Kevin Cashman reveals to readers the secret to dealing with their insatiable compulsion to do more and more within any given day. Kevin shows that instead of simply doing more, professionals must learn to stop, reflect, and move forward in a deliberately different manner in order to achieve more. He goes on to provide the insights and tools for pausing to accomplish more in several key areas including: - Personal leadership - Employee development - Innovative culture Each section is concluded with a summary of the ‘Pause Practices’ needed to excel in that area as well as a ‘Pause Point’ containing provocative questions for visioning the future you are seeking to achieve. I agree that today’s fast paced world compels professionals to act with a speed that limits deliberate consideration. Such restrictions heighten the risk of error, poor decisions, and deteriorating health. With the never ending push to do more with less, this condition is not likely to change soon. The Pause Principle fills a gap within today’s leadership training. Seldom are leaders taught the value of and methods to slow down. Kevin provides actionable methods for professionals to constructively pause; using this time for valuable contemplation, innovation, and planning so to truly achieve more with less rather than at the expense of ones personal life and health. To some extent, all professionals are decision-makers and quality decisions require deliberate contemplation. The Pause Principle reminds us of the importance of pausing so to apply the knowledge and experiences necessary for good decision-making – decision-making that leads to innovation and growth. For its sound, immediately implementable actions promoting excellence by slowing down, The Pause Principle is a StrategyDriven recommended read. All the Best, Nathan Ives StrategyDriven Principal