Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Set The Right Pace To Drive Strategy

© AdobeStock
Too little pace stalls progress, too much pace exhausts resources. Even the right pace requires action to maintain momentum. Savvy CEOs engage their executives to find the balance between time and urgency.

Getting to the destination (a.k.a., your vision) on time requires establishing an appropriate rhythm and pace to the work. Skilled CEOs know that their decisions and actions dictate both rhythm and pace for the entire organization. This makes it critically important for them to understand the team’s shared sense of urgency vis á vis the time required – and available – to reach the objective.

Stalled progress or a pace that’s too fast often signals a disconnect between time and urgency. Further, correcting this disconnect can mean the difference between achieving goals and falling short. While it may sound simple, establishing the right pace is challenging – and it’s a common question I hear from executives.

Skilled executives do three things to set and manage pace:

1. Get grounded in what’s real. When they get grounded in what’s real, executives develop a deeper understanding of pace than what metrics alone reveal. Engaging leaders throughout the organization provides greater visibility into what’s going on within. It also illuminates the nature and extent of a potential disconnect. Ask:

  • To what extent does everyone know where you’re headed and what is their role in achieving the objective?
  • To what extent do you know the critical things others need from you/your team to achieve objectives or deliver value?
  • What happens if you fail to meet objectives?

2. Inspire insight. Closing the gap between time and urgency often requires reframing the outcome or objective in the context of today’s reality. Paint a vibrant picture of what success looks like and the impact of failing to meet objectives. Then, add in what you learned about current reality to inspire insight about what’s needed. For example:

  • How well are you delivering the value you promise and customers expect?
  • What are you learning about your products and services from your staff and customers?
  • What one thing makes it easier – or harder – to get things done?
  • To what extent does your staff feel energized and excited about the work and business?

3. Ignite action. Having established a clear view of the efficacy and impact of the current pace, decide whether it’s the right pace. Will your current pace get you to the destination, on time and without burning out your people? Either way, ignite action. For example:

  • How and to what extent will you alter momentum to deliver what you intended to do?
  • In what ways will you adjust – and monitor – timelines, systems or processes to improve the way critical things work together?
  • How often will you check in or follow up with your people to ensure they have what they need both to get the work done in a timely manner and to refresh or recharge?

Too little pace stalls progress. Too much pace exhausts resources. And even the right pace requires action to maintain momentum. Savvy CEOs engage their executives to find the balance between time and urgency. Together, they set the right pace to drive strategy.

Learn more about adjusting rhythm and pace – and why it matters – beginning on page 227 of my book, Charting the Course: Tools to Align Strategy and Operations©.


  • 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.