Close this search box.
Close this search box.

No Time To Wait—Or Waste

© AdobeStock
Whether you're struggling to keep pace with demand, or trying to stay afloat during the long lull, it's critical to ensure the pace the company is at is the one it needs to succeed.

Lately, the CEOs and executives I advise tell me: “There’s no time to wait!” For some, it’s because the urgency of their business is so great, they feel they cannot afford to pause – for anything. Their focus is solely on keeping pace: staying afloat; meeting intensive demand; adapting to changing protocols; leaping over the next bar; keeping competitors at bay; etc.

For others, “no time to wait” means the opposite. The pace of work has slowed to the extent that their business threatens to stall. Collectively, the organization lacks a sense of urgency. These CEOs can no longer wait to act. They’ve got to get everyone moving again.

In both situations, the current rhythm and pace of the organization is not the rhythm and pace the CEO needs to achieve their objectives. Importantly, the CEOs also recognize that the pace they have today is not sustainable: there’s no time to wait. Some advice:

• CEOs set the rhythm and pace.

Intentionally or not, CEOs set the rhythm and pace of the organization by the choices they make. In turn, these decisions and actions dictate the organization’s sense of urgency. Ideally, the organization’s pace allows an ongoing rhythm that maintains momentum and avoids burnout. This is not usually achieved by holding a single constant speed, however. (Think of a heart rate: flat line is never a good sign!) Good rhythm has some variation. It’s about finding a balance between too much pace and too little. Done well, adjustments to rhythm and pace enhance clarity while dodging burnout.

• Avoid creating a chasm.

Sometimes, giant steps allow giant leaps forward. At other times, they create holes that take the organization backward. Having no time to wait when the pace is great also leaves little time to think ahead or plan for the future. Thus, even if the team is meeting objectives in the near term, they may be creating potholes for the future. Perhaps inject a pause—a moment to celebrate success to date or simply take a breath. Allow “stretch” for yourself and the organization; yet avoid creating a chasm.

• Instigate urgency.

When the lack of pace threatens a stall, the organization may need a push. If the impending stall results from fatigue, try narrowing the focus. Identify a few individual or short-term goals that can spur bigger wins, which you can then make visible. This can help the team to regroup. Alternatively, when too much constancy creates complacency or organizational malaise, CEOs can instigate urgency. With their leadership team, CEOs paint a picture of what it looks like if the organization does not succeed. Then jointly with the team, they set new goals to renew interest in and enthusiasm for achieving them.

Having no time to wait is often a signal that the organization’s rhythm and pace is out of whack. Most likely, it tells the CEO that there is a disconnect between the rhythm and pace they have and what’s needed. Without direct intervention, the organization may well continue on; yet at what cost? When there’s no time to wait, the CEO must heed the warning and act. Assess whether the team has too much pace or too little. Either way, it’s simply not sustainable.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.