Of a leader’s many roles, I think one of the most important is the ability to keep up momentum. Without momentum things stall and stagger and eventually they stop.
Here are some questions I ask myself to make sure I am approaching momentum in the right way.
- Are you losing momentum because it’s a bad idea or an idea whose moment has not yet come? Should you halt it now and save any more time or effort? Maybe you should just review - just to check things out. Maybe it’s fine and you can move again with more vigour. Too many leaders are worried about "calling time out" in case they reveal that they made a mistake and appear stupid.
- Is it just naturally slowing down as part of its journey – as part of a more reflective period? Or is now the time to gather more players and to play catch up? If you push too hard you will mess things up. But allowing for slowness isn’t the same as doing nothing. Your role is to gently nudge things forward ensuring that they do not drag or even stop through inattention.
- Is it going too fast? Are the complexities being ignored? Is everything railroading? Are you producing increasingly unsustainable solutions? You might need to steady just a little - take stock. No one will want you to interfere, to "slow things down", so you will have to work hard to wade in.
- Is it a combination of all the above. Is the team being driven wild with its unpredictable stop-start nature? Maybe this is part of its energy so let it go. Maybe it’s seeping the energy so you might have to balance it a little.
- Is it going just right. If so, don't take your eye off the ball. Planning and milestones help - sure they do - but they don't replace a leader listening, feeling the pace, hearing the tone and watching the mood. And no leader can do this unless they too vary the pace. My father used to tell me never to trust a leader who you didn't just occasionally see with their feet up appearing to be dreaming.
Have you been in a situation where you have had to keep the momentum? Tell me your story in comments below.