Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution

By | January 15, 2017

Product: Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman

Price: $28.00

Cheapest Place to Buy: www.amazon.com

My Personal Rating: 8 out of 10


The pace of change is accelerating and an organization’s speed is set by its leaders. In their newest book, Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman draw from their firm’s extensive research on the leadership competencies of thousands of leaders worldwide. The findings are truly amazing and produce very useful information that helps us understand how to be an effective leader with fast performance.

Key evidence-based findings from Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution

  • When asked “if this organization were able to move faster would it substantially influence our success,” 69 percent of 5,100 people agreed and 77 percent of top management agreed.
  • When either doing things fast or doing things right is a strength (rated at or above the 75th percentile) the probability of a leader being in the top 10 percent is only 2 or 3 percent. However, when both are rated as strengths that probability shoots up to 96 percent.
  • Correlating pace survey results and stress levels showed that stress is cut in half when people increase their speed.
  • Leaders rated in the top 10 percent on speed had direct reports with engagement levels in the top quartile.
  • The highest leadership speed correlates to the highest annual performance ratings.
  • The slowest leaders were nearly four times more likely to be terminated than their fastest peers.

The speed to which the book refers is the leader’ ability to reduce the time of valuing some circumstance, to see a trend emerging, to improve procedures, to identify a problem and to respond before the others.

Eight chapters provide application tips and examples for each of these behaviours.

The first part of the book compares the competencies of leaders with other attributes that can participate in its effectiveness speed. It is not only about being fast in our work, but about doing things well and accurately. The most successful organizations benefit when they focus on strategic speed and delivering value. The speed of leadership seems to increase engagement, retention, discretionary effort, and greater contribution to the organization.

The second part provides tactics to increase leadership speed as the authors consider that it is possible for anyone to develop it. For example:

  • how to maintain brief positive interactions
  • how to facilitate fast-paced and more efficient meetings
  • how to make things simpler
  • how to drive self-confidence

The third part deals with eight specific behaviors that are based on a statistical correlation of leaders’ behaviours operating at optimal speed.

  1. Innovating
  2. Exhibiting strategic perspective
  3. Displaying courage
  4. Setting stretch goals
  5. Communicating powerfully
  6. Bringing external focus
  7. Taking initiative
  8. Possessing knowledge and expertise

Check Out This Tool Provided By the Authors: Pace Assessment.

This tool helps leaders determine their preference for a slow or fast pace. Answers to 15 pairs of choices are plotted on two scales; quality/quantity and patience/impatience. With a high correlation between this self-assessment and their 360 data, Zenger Folkman conclude “our data is very clear that the most effective leaders have a fairly quick pace and excellent execution.”

Plenty of Practical Tips and Practices!

Check out these chapters:

  • “Speeding Up Your Day,”
  • “Modeling Speed,”
  • “Accelerate Meetings.”

One of My Favorite Insights From the Speed!

Without a doubt, the chapter on life balance discusses when to go fast and when to go slow. By speeding up in the right places we can create the space to slow down and enjoy life more.

What’s In It For Me!

The paradox of a highly effective and faster leader is he or she can often be the least stressed and the most balanced.

Why I Enjoyed This Book?

It’s such a timely book for today’s leadership and organizational change!

I hope you have enjoyed this review and if you have any questions about Speed or want to leave your own personal review, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Here is a link to my profile.

All the best!


2 thoughts on “Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution

  1. Roman

    While obtaining a master’s degree in social work I interned at a local homeless shelter. The Executive Director stated a great perk to do well in an organization: to “think on your feet.”

    This is basically what your topic is in what you provided for us. To make effective decisions and take action with results quickly; not being slow. The Executive Director obtained enough funding for the organization to renovate it for the first time in approximately 50 years of its existence.

    The book you are talking about will certainly help people to “think on your feet.” It is essential for the best success, as you have stated. A great resource to help people obtain this perk.

    Thanks for the info!

    Roman G. Rys, MSW, LCSWA

    1. admin

      Roman, thank you for sharing a great example of a shift in thinking to “think on your feet!” When this shift happens and becomes embedded throughout the organization, people are engaged and awesome outcomes are achieved.

      All the best,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *