Managers DO, but Leaders PAUSE

By Talisa Ernstmann, MA, ACC

When my kids were little they talked a lot about opening a pet store “when they grew up.”  My daughter said she wanted the job of playing with all the animals and feeding them.  My son, two years older, piped up and said, “I want to be the manager.”  When I asked who would clean up the animals messes, my daughter quickly said “That’s the job of the manager!”

Those of us who have been leaders in organizations can relate.  Sometimes it’s about motivating, influencing, and creating a great team environment.  Other times it’s about cleaning up messes, managing conflict, and fire-fighting.

No matter what challenge you find yourself faced with every day, being a leader is about being strategic, innovative, and transformative.  Kevin Cashman talks about this in his book, The Pause Principle. He talks about managers being transactional and needing to do a lot of fast thinking.  By contrast he talks about leaders needing time to pause and reflect.  The “pause principle” is the intentional process of stepping back, within ourselves and outside of ourselves, to lead forward with greater authenticity.

In my coaching practice, I have found that getting leaders to do this often results in personal “breakthroughs” for them.  When I get them to reflect on their true values, on what really matters to them in life, and what they most want to be remembered for, things seem to shift for them.  What is worrying them in the moment seems to become less important.  The work crisis they have just described seems to fade into the background.  By reflecting and thinking through these deeper questions, it helps us all to re-focus and re-calibrate.  I invite you to take 10 minutes right now and answer these questions for yourself:

  • What values are near and dear to you?  Pick your top three.
  • What matters most to you in your work and in your life?  Is the majority of your time spent nurturing these things?
  • When you retire, what do you most want to be remembered for at work?  When you die, what do you hope people remember about you as a person?

Big questions requiring deep reflection.  Now, how will you show up differently tomorrow based on these responses?


For help with creating a plan to implement these values, contact Talisa for a complimentary consultation.