Is it possible to lead in “Real Time” today? How often during the day do you deal with the unexpected? Suddenly, your day takes a turn. You feel emotionally hijacked by a sudden interruption that requires your attention. Immediately, you begin to feel the pressure to provide an answer. Recognizing and cultivating a sense of urgency is one of your prize virtues. The gnawing pressure to answer comes from a gut level belief that if you were a really good leader you would be able to respond in Real Time. But what does Real Time mean?
Most definitions of Real Time begin with a connection to computer processing. Real Time provides a good description of computational performance. But, that’s only part of the story. Real Time refers to human processing as well. Remove the computer and apply the language to your daily crisis parade. Real Time is a way to describe the actual time required for a process. Real Time is not synonymous with immediate.
Pressure for an immediate response can lead to a premature response. Think about the word pre-mature for a moment. The hyphen helps make a point. A pre-mature response is faster. But, is it better? A mature response in Real Time requires a deliberate process. Pressure for an immediate response can lead to two costly shortcuts. First, pressure can have a detrimental affect on your emotions and thereby lead to a pre-mature response. Second, pressure can short-circuit your willingness and ability to gather sufficient information to make a mature response. Sometimes, you may be able to respond immediately. Sometimes, more time is required. Real Time leaders do not allow pressure to overtake the process.
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