New Study Reveals How to Increase Your Speed Without Burning Out

John Krautzel
Posted by

More and more companies rely on organizational agility to keep pace with rapid changes and disruptions in the global marketplace. As a business leader, you must learn to increase your speed without burning out to maintain your team's overall efficiency, especially when you consider increases in competition, new technology and ever-changing customer expectations that require agility to meet demands. Check out how to improve your speed to become more effective.

First, Some Definitions

Learn to recognize the difference between frantic activity and improving your speed. One business leader noted that he works 60 hours per week, always attends meetings and responds to emails late into the night. He said that he cannot possibly work any faster. This is frantic activity, which can lead to exhaustion and you burning out instead of increasing your speed.

Speed is vitally important for leaders, because statistics show that leaders who move faster are more engaged with employees, are much more effective at their jobs and have higher approval ratings from their peers compared to business leaders that don't move as fast. Finding that sweet spot between better job efficiency and speed helps to increase your speed.

What You Can Do to Increase Your Speed

Faster leaders rely on eight skills that impact their speed and effectiveness. Joseph Folkman, founder of leadership development firm Zenger Folkman, assessed more than 700 business leaders using specific criteria. He looked at feedback ratings from mangers, peers and direct reports to assess their speed and effectiveness. Then, he gave those leaders specialized follow-up tests 18 to 24 months later to see if the initial assessments had any effect.

Zenger Folkman found that when leaders work on those eight particular skills, they improved their speed by as many as 40 percentage points. The top skill during the assessment was about developing a strategic perspective. This means knowing a clear direction to take a company or team to move forward. Communication was another top-tier skill, because leaders must communicate a business strategy to their teams to be the most effective. Learning how to stretch goals a bit beyond the initial strategic goals can make teams more efficient as they increase speed. The skill of innovation shows how teams can perform the same tasks but with better efficiency.

Even these four skills may take time to bear fruit, which is why you should focus on two leadership skills that best match your personal interests. If you're great at developing strategic goals and then inspiring teams to go beyond those goals, focus on improving your speed in those two areas. Once you master those two skills, move on to others. Gauge and assess your performance before and after you increase your speed and take stock of your feelings to avoid burn out.

Don't forget to reward yourself for increasing productivity and finding better ways to do things. View images of cute baby animals during the day to help take your mind off of stressful things. Do fun things during work breaks to unplug from work before diving back into your daily tasks.

Increase your speed by knowing what to prioritize in your own behavior. That way, you can tackle one challenge at a time without facing burn out at the office.

Photo courtesy of Snoqualmie Ridge at


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch