Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

The power of pause in leadership

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The most effective leaders know there’s only one thing they have complete control over: “the way in which I respond and react to another human.” They know their success depends on the unity and determination of their team members. They also know the best work comes from individuals who are motivated and excited about the work they’re doing.

How do leaders improve the performance of their teams and create a culture of productivity?

Power of Pause

Intentional leaders create an environment where their teams can do their best work. They know that stress kills productivity. They know that manipulating employees creates stress and kills their desire to do good work. As stress increases throughout an organization, the effectiveness and efficiency of the work decreases.

In the book THE 24 HOUR RULE—Leading in a Frenetic World, author Charles Fred writes about how stress comes from acting impulsively and without emotional discipline. To change you need to be intentional with your emotions and fully aware of your impact on others. The key to doing this is to pause. “Pause is not a delay, but a discipline. It’s not a waste of time; rather, it affords us the time to deliberate before we act.

To use pause effectively, a leader must use self-discipline—the ability to mentally call a timeout, to get rest, to mentally run through a checklist—despite the temptation to quickly react or respond.

Gaining control over how you respond and react to others requires deliberation and intention. Mr. Fred has found three fundamentals that will help you develop the discipline of pause:

  1. Start by being fully aware of the stress in your work environment, and how you may be contributing to the problem.
  2. Make the commitment to pause, to gain control over how you react and respond to others.
  3. Take time (he recommends one full week) to work on things that will help you gain control.

Ultimately, each one of us holds the power to decide how, when and where we respond to crises, questions, criticisms, unforeseen situations, employees and colleagues. When we exercise the discipline of pause, we inspire and lead others to accomplish remarkable feats that otherwise would not occur.

Questions: How do you react to stressful situations? What have you learned from situations where you paused before you acted? Please leave a comment in the space below.


The Product Management Perspective: Product managers have a tough job; we have to lead teams that don’t report to us to create products that will be successful. The work can be stressful! Implementing the practice of pause in your product management will make a significantly positive impact on the success you have with your products.

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