Leaders need to hit pause – here is why!

Busy-ness should not be confused with effectiveness, so leaders need to hit pause, stop to reflect, we can then check whether we are working optimally and doing the right things.


One thing we all missed during the pandemic and remote working was the transition periods we used to have in the office. This was when we had time to reflect, take a breather, and re-boot. During our commutes, we read our newspapers or thought about the day ahead. We stopped for a coffee on the way and maybe chatted to a colleague in the elevator. We might get up from our desks to grab a soda or bottle of water. Co-workers arranged lunch and after works drinks. There was space in between meetings where we walked to the conference room on the next floor, chatting to co-workers as we went.


leaders need to hit pause

Less “me” time

During lockdown, we no longer sat in our cars or on the train or bus or even walked or cycled to our place of work. Today, we roll out of bed right into the “office.” It might be a dedicated place of work if we are lucky. Mostly it’s around the kitchen or dining table, frequently sharing with our partners. If schools are on lockdown then our kids will be there too. Maybe we get out of our PJs – maybe not. Now we go from one Zoom meeting to another with very little time in between. Lunch and coffee rooms are an arm’s length away. Chatting with our colleagues is done online. Our boss makes us have crazy hat motivational Teams meetings to “lift our spirits” and to stay connected. It is an endless round of being “online-on.”

Sometimes our bosses just forget about us completely. It’s actually hard to know which is better being overwhelmed or neglected. Everyone has had a different experience of the 18 months and that is what makes it so challenging to deal with.

Now more than ever we need to slow down to speed up and hit pause to be more effective. With less and less “me” time, leaders have fewer opportunities to think about what really matters and to plan. That thinking time is important.


The global pandemic has created a seismic shift in the way workplaces are evolving. Changes in technology have always speeded up the pace of evolution, but today we face different challenges today than we did previously. Leaders are working harder and faster to keep up. But there are downsides. According to Fortune, 25% of U.K. workers feel they’ve reached a “psychological breaking point” due to the stresses of their work and the impact of COVID19. Many feel pressured to disguise their anxiety, depression, and burnout to colleagues which is much easier to do online than in person.

A new study by health insurance company Lime Group, suggests that over half of those surveyed feel pressure to cover up their feelings from their colleagues that they are having difficulty in coping with both the stresses of the job and the pandemic.

Lime calls the phenomenon “pleasanteeism,” which means putting on a brave face and “presenting the very best versions of ourselves when returning to the workplace.”  The study finds “pleasanteeism” can be corrosive in a workplace. “At its worst, such denialism masks deep-rooted workplace issues, and it undermines efforts to promote an open dialogue about mental health in a work setting.”  Only 16% of workers felt their mental health needs were being supported at work.  Additionally a third indicate that their employers don’t provide them with enough general support.

40% of workers say they will look for a new job if their employers don’t offer greater support. That figure coincides with other studies showing employers could be seeing the “great resignation” once offices reopen in the coming weeks and months.

Studies from the European Commission also confirm that loneliness and mental health issues have been an unintended consequence of dealing with COVID19.

“Businesses are sleepwalking into a mental health crisis,”

leaders need to hit pause

Speeding up is not the solution.

Research from McKinsey suggests that speeding up and applying more pressure isn’t the answer for leaders or their teams. That frequently only adds to the problem, and simply consumes more energy to solve only part of the problem. But it is not always easy to persuade leaders to hit pause and slow down. It is not always obvious that successful outcomes may not come from swift and linear progression, but by taking time to dig deeper. That involves being fully present and in tune with themselves and their reports which only comes with self-care.

Busy-ness isn’t always a solution or a measure of our worth to the organisation. Our value should not be decided by how many things we do in a day (e-mails, meetings, Zoom calls) but what we achieve. Busy-ness should also not be confused with effectiveness, so when we hit pause and stop to reflect, we can check whether we are working optimally and doing the right things. Leaders have to motivate their teams so they deliver, not by stepping in and doing it all themselves.

Focus on results

This involves making a conscious decision to work differently. It doesn’t mean jumping from one task to another without reflection and delegating as soon as something hits our desks. We then need to follow up and understanding the pressures our reports are under. The added layer of complexity is that everyone one of us has experienced the pandemic differently and will have individual needs. This should be done routinely on a daily basis. It’s important that we get this right now because at this point in the pandemic we are influencing a shift to what could potentially be the workplace model of the next year or more.

The saying goes: “One man’s wisdom, is another man’s folly.”

We all have to find our own way of doing this. The ability to hit pause, reflect, still our minds, and plan will become a critical leadership skill in the upcoming months.


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3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Leadership and Competence Building or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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