In today's always connected, always on, faster-than-fast moving world we've eliminated any time for introspection, for reasoned decision making, and for time to think about the medium and long term. We're too busy for that. There's an actual job to be done.

In doing so, we've created a high-stress, high-reward culture for those willing to put in the hard yards and keep us moving in a direction. What we've lost is the ability to take a breath, to center our thoughts and to give ourselves the headspace to think more innovatively and creatively.

There's one tool in the leader's toolbox that can help you regain your composure in times of upheaval, clear your head when you need to think strategically and create the space for collaborative solutions to emerge. It's a tool that's seldom used nowadays. It's small in stature but mighty in impact. I'm talking about the power of the pause

Your ability to let silence do the talking can unlock all manner of solutions to problems that you didn't know existed. Specifically, here are three scenarios where silence can be more profound than action:

Your team faces a challenge.

You're at risk of losing your biggest customer, or you've noticed a not inconsequential defect in a product that's already shipped. You're facing a problem, a crisis even and you need a swift response. Rather than rushing to fix the problem, why not pause for a moment to make sure your response is reasoned and can be delivered swiftly?

An odd time you may think to take pause. And at the macro level, you're right; you need to ensure a speedy response. To get that right, however, slowing things down at a micro-level is essential. So take a minute to gather the facts, ensure you've uncovered the root of the problem & the extent of the damage and make sure you've identified & agreed to the key steps to fixing the problem.

Then right before you go implement, take a further pause by asking "What have we missed that may cause us to not get this right?"

You have to deliver bad news.

One of the least-favored parts of being an effective leader is delivering bad news. Whether it's some critical feedback to someone on your team, pushing back on unreasonable customer demands or perhaps even as part of your crisis management approach above. When faced with an upcoming difficult conversation your brain kicks into a fight-or-flight response. That's why most leaders are either too combative or too meek when delivering bad news.

Rather than going in and being led by your emotions, take a moment and think through the desired outcome, play through the conversation in your head including the possible responses from the other side and practice what it would feel like to give a reasoned, unemotive response to their frustrations. Pausing before delivering bad news will help center you and help you to move toward a positive outcome.

You have a great idea.

As an entrepreneurial leader, you undoubtedly have at least a handful of bright ideas before you even get into the office. From new product offerings to marketing strategies, potential joint ventures to ways to drive down your cost base while maintaining quality. Many of those ideas likely would or at least could revolutionize your business.

The thing is every time you unleash one of your game-changing ideas to your team it sends them off into a scramble, abandoning whatever shiny new object your were pursuing last month and unclear how long this one will last before it's superseded with another.

The thing with great ideas is, if they make sense today, they'll likely still be a great idea tomorrow or next week or next month. So instead of throwing a cat amongst the proverbial pigeons why not take a pause? Wait until your next strategic review and put it out for consideration there, where your team can evaluate it next to the other strategic imperatives you are working on. 

What other ways can you think of where taking a pause is better than rushing to action?