Whether we are aware or not, a restrained barrier of interference often lurks just beneath the surface of our organizations. A barrier that not only inhibits, but often serves as a detriment to our leadership and the overall health of our organization. While many would consider it an obstacle to overcome, others may view it as a strategy to unfurl when necessary. Attuned to it or not, it occurs in our workplaces, at both the subordinate and administrative ranks, and often has profound consequences on our overall ability to lead.
However, if we take the time to notice, we might realize it occurs in our lives more than we recognize, and it isn’t always others, sometimes we are the guilty ones.
What possible obstacle or barrier may be inhibiting not only the health of our organization, but the effectiveness of our leadership?
Not a word or term, rather a military coined phrase, referenced as slow ball rolling.
Now, you might be saying, military? Slow ball rolling? What does that have to do with my leadership and even the health of my organization? For which I counter, a lot! And furthermore, we are all guilty of it!
More often than not, slow ball rolling is prevalent in many situations within and throughout our lives. While it does touch our personal lives, it plays an even deeper role in its effect on our organizations and leadership. Before we address those implications, let’s take a stab at defining this term…
While research rendered no actual definition for the term, slow ball rolling can be seen as a strategy (positive or negative) to slow or stall efforts towards implementation of a program, policy, initiative or other change effort. It is worth noting that slow ball rolling can and does occur at all levels or tiers within an organization. However, it appears to be most prevalent as a strategy or tool utilized by a person or persons who are most heavily tasked with implementing the initiative or change effort.
Good or bad, consciously or unconsciously, slow ball rolling aims to slow down change within an organization. For that reason, it is vital for leaders to not only have the awareness of its existence, but determine if and for how long this strategy has been deployed. Strong leaders will not only identify it, they will analyze and determine the why behind the stall tactic, which will be crucial to determining next steps. In many organizations, the slow ball rolling approach to change provides the perfect vehicle to move an effort from the stage of implementation to the category of this too shall pass. For many, slow ball rolling provides a simple strategy or vehicle for preserving and maintaining status quo as the main driver of their organization.
The one thing about slow ball rolling, once you understand the term, it opens your eyes to how prevalent it is within our organizations. People utilize slow ball rolling more than we realize to stall and delay initiatives, it is virtually entrenched in our organizations. As a leader, recognizing the slow ball roll is the first step, more important is your ability to analyze and understand the why behind the roll.
Leaders must also recognize that not all who slow ball roll initiatives do it for negative or purely personal reasons, oftentimes those serving on the front lines of the organization have a deeper understanding of the implications associated with implementing the initiative or change effort. Many times, better than the leadership. Some situations call for those to support the organization by slow ball rolling to stall or delay a change effort that may not be in the best interest of the organization. However, this is not the usual formula for implementation.
Slow ball rolling as a strategy or tactic provides us another example to the importance of creating an environment of trust, supported with clear communications and transparency of action, as a strong deterrent to slow ball rolling. When relationships, trust, and the lines of communication break down is when we see these types of tactics raise their ugly heads within organizations.
Digging down into what lays behind slow ball rolling will most often surface underlying issues that must be addressed to support improved organizational health. Leaders who can quickly recognize slow ball rolling, diagnose the underlying issues, and implement a strategy to combat the tactic, will better serve the ongoing growth and welfare of their organization. In addition, those same leaders must determine how to effectively deal with those perpetrators who slow ball roll initiatives otherwise, the ongoing efforts and effectiveness of their leadership will ultimately be undermined or compromised.
For better or worse, slow ball rolling is alive and well in most organizations. Awareness and attention to it before it adversely affects your organization, its health, and our your leadership is the key.