Thought-filled pauses increase the influence of leaders
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Thought-filled pauses increase the influence of leaders

Thoughtful pauses are a first line strategy with soft skill development

In 2018 I had the opportunity to hear Juliet Funt speak on her ideas about White Space. Juliet is the CEO of a company called White Space at Work and she refers to white space as a strategic pause taken between activities - like taking little sips of water.

Juliet shares about the thieves of productivity and how, when we take the things we do well and move them to the extreme, they become unproductive. 

Four thieves were identified: drive, excellence, information and activity.

DRIVE can become hyperdrive

EXCELLENCE in the extreme becomes perfectionism

Continual seeking for INFORMATION evolves into information overload

And extreme ACTIVITY becomes frenzy

How do you avoid the thieves?

When you can’t (external)or won’t (internal) plan what you do at work, including the pace and pressure of your days, you will become increasingly less effective.  

15 years ago Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of the girl scouts and now President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute wrote, the first challenge facing leaders “ is a matter of how to be leaders – not how to do leadership”. Frances is now 105 years old.

Dr Eugene Haebaker, in his book, Essential Soft Skills That Transform Leaders and the People They Lead looks at building and maintaining a healthy spiritual, mental, and physical foundation. Rather than white space, he calls this time, Sacred Space. Again, focusing on the idea that leaders will likely fail when they are not grounded in a space that consistently offers planned thoughtfulness.

White space and sacred space are parts of the same continuum. Perhaps they involve different levels of thinking but the bottom line of planning your space is that as leaders, you and I need to determine how we choose to engage in this protected time. 

Pursuit of your own strategy to protect time that allows you to think for yourself prepares you to be ready to act on what you think, to clarify what your position is, to be able to articulate what your focus is and where you want your focus to make a difference. 

Coming out of regularly recurring spaces of planned thoughtfulness, your voice can provide clarity and even calm in an overly busy world.

What about Cyberspace and the profound effect on our use of time. Both good and not good. 

Questions to Ask:

How can a leader optimize their use of cyberspace to protect a space needed for strategic thinking for furthering the foundations of their leadership?

 Can a leader pursue rhythms of work that allow for space to continually affirm who we are and not just what we do?

Who am I being? What do I think? Where is my focus? How am I influencing and adding value to myself and those around me?  

Pause and reflect. I promise you’ll grow as a result of it.

Are you looking to grow in this area. To be more strategic in your thinking. You can reach me at As a leadership coach, I’d love to connect and talk about how I can support your growth.


Juliet Funt, CEO, White Space at Work

Frances Hesselbein quoted in Chief Executive, January/February, 1995, 38.


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