As a leader, you need to react fast to the information you receive. The trick to reacting fast is that you don’t overreact. It’s that delicate balance, but you’ve got to do it if you want your company and your employees to be the best that they can be.
Reacting Slowly Stifles Change
People will sit on information without making the appropriate changes, losing growth and advantages they could have gained from it. They react too slowly that they lose leverage from new information and ideas.
A great leader wants to gain the most that they can out of new opportunities, which means reacting to things quickly to push change. The greatest changes come from opportunities that are acted upon quickly and efficiently. That means, as a leader, you need to reach them fast.
Reacting Slowly Hurts Your Employees
Employees who look to you for guidance, inspiration, and leadership get frustrated when they give you real information and you’re too paralyzed to do anything about it.
‘Race to the conflict’ is a great management phrase to know. When something bugs you, it’s important to act on it right away and address it with the person. Note that you should never do it in writing.
It was always better to confront the matter in person. Employees respected me for handling situations this way; it built trust and meant nothing was left to fester. Also, addressing the matter in person allowed them to give their thoughts on the matter, too. Sometimes their perspective can give you a lot of additional information.
Reacting Slowly Worsens a Crisis
As a leader, you’re bound to run into crises. Not knowing how to react and act upon these quickly can make the problem worse and be detrimental to your business.
Crisis can involve something inside the business, or something outside such as the press. In every crisis, but especially one involving a customer or the press, you need to respond as quickly as possible. Without a solution, things keep snowballing.
“When news is transmitted around the globe in a nanosecond over social media, featuring real-time pictures and videos, there is little to no time to position, posture or even understand the facts before you are pressed to make a statement. Because, if you do not speak for yourself quickly, or if you do so poorly, someone else – antagonist, police, government, competitor or anonymous hater – will speak for you. And in the world of public perception, the first mover has the advantage.” – Forbes
Reacting fast as a leader is essential in many different situations, be it business opportunities, employee problems, or full on crises.
Strife causes confusion, and confusion comes when leaders don’t react fast to potential problems. Just be careful that when you react fast, you also react well. Don’t react with emotion, but react with eagerness to take things on and fix things.
Do you react fast to opportunities and problems? How did you learn to do this well? Let us know in the comments below.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2010 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.