‘The people who make things move in this world share this same sense of URGENCY. No matter how intelligent or how able you may be, if you don’t have this sense of URGENCY now is the time to start developing it.The world is full of very competent people who honestly intend to do things tomorrow or as soon as they can get around to it. Their accomplishments, however, seldom match those of the less talented who are blessed with a sense of the importance of GETTING STARTED NOW.’
Cyril Bamford, founder of JCB
I wrote my book ‘Superfast: Lead at Speed’ for those who wanted to find ways to manage that sense of urgency and ‘make things move’. The book was based on the insights of over 100 global leaders and explored how to help others speed up but also when we should all make sure we slow down (which feels harder than ever in a rapidly-accelerating, changing and uncertain world).
I started researching the book initially because I could see the challenge facing 21st-century leadership: how do we balance the need to be responsive with the need to be responsible in what we do?
This week John Murray Press published the paperback version of Superfast. This new lighter, whiter and better-value paperback joins the hardback, Kindle and audiobook versions. So now there are different ways to discover answers to questions on pace-setting, truth, teamwork and what 21st century leadership looks like – to make sure we’re moving fast, but in the right direction.
It’s a year since the launch in hardback and I’m still pinching myself over the positive reception. The book reached Number 1 on Amazon business book bestsellers in change management, was shortlisted for Business Book of the Year and has led to me speaking at events and inside organisations across the world. It’s been a fascinating year for me and for the team at Caffeine & as we celebrate the paperback launch, I am taking a ‘pause’ to reflect on what I’ve learnt in this last year.
1.Leaders understand that organisation brands are built now from inside out and the question of ‘pace’ is on everyone’s minds.
We operate in a transparent world where the purpose or mission of an organisation, the principles or values that are lived internally and the reality of the culture are critical in how consumers and customers view the brand. That starts at a senior level with a truthful articulation of what the company is (and wants to be).
At Caffeine we have been busy this year working extensively with companies who are defining their strategy and aligning their senior leaders behind it, facilitating the discussions to help accelerate the work. Everybody wants to make this happen fast – but they know they need to slow down to think and discuss something as important as this. We’ve been talking to a lot of executive teams about ways in which their leadership can work out how to ruthlessly prioritise their focus and deliver communications and support with grace.
2. There is still a long way to go as regards ‘the gender agenda.’ I overcame a terrible writer’s block halfway through the book was via a determination to be part of changing the stats about female business writers. There are some celebrated female authors in non-fiction but often their topics cover subjects such as diversity. We need more women to write business books and to be confident enough to develop their speaking career. (I’ve spoken on ‘A Book of One’s Own’ podcast with Lucy McCarraher about this). This past year I’ve spoken on a number of stages to a variety of different audiences and always, always, someone comes up afterwards to express their delight at having a female business speaker – it would be great to make it the norm rather than a novelty.
3. People in business are often inherently generous – and the most successful people are also inherently curious. The image of successful business people is often allied with competition and ruthlessness. The reality is that I’ve found that many of the most successful people, while ruthless with their time, are aware of the value of ‘giving back’ and sharing what they’ve learnt. All 100 leaders I interviewed were both candid and thoughtful. But in this last year, I’ve seen how many people are prepared to recommend a book they like or a speaker they’ve heard to other people. The connections, invitations and conversations the book has started has been incredible & I’ve realised how many people understand that business karma, paying it forward, sharing and collaborating gets you further and helps you move faster – and how interested interesting people are in reading, learning and staying curious about how to thrive in a world which is not slowing down.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic then Superfast is available in many formats here and if you have any questions about work you’re doing with your senior leadership team, let me know.
Tweet me @s_devonshire, find me on Instagram @ms_speeds or drop me an email [email protected].
I’d love a coffee and a chat – and obviously, the sooner the better.