Lead-footed Leadership

John Whitaker John Whitaker, Leadership

Waaaaaaay back in the 1990s, before Tom Cruise lost his mind, he was in a little flick called Top Gun. 

Ever heard of it?

One of the iconic memes to come out of the movie was when “Mav” and “Goose” would exclaim “I feel the need, the need for speed!” Good times…

(Okay Tom, back to Xenu, we’ll carry on without you…)

THE NEED FOR SPEED.” During times of significant change, every employee in the company should be issued a bumper sticker with the same slogan.  Believe it or not, when things are uncertain and in the midst of change, employees want the process to go faster.

So those instincts you may feel that urge you to tap the brakes? Gotta say “No.”


  • Adjusting to “change” is one thing… anxiety waiting for the next shoe to drop is another. People hate ambiguity—“change” they can deal with. We’ve managed to adapt to change our entire lives, whether the shift be slight or significant—that’s what humans do.
  • Chaos demands short-term vision. Instead of worrying about 6 months, 12 months, or 2 years from now, your employees will produce results more readily when they are given immediate goals and objectives. Focus on today, tomorrow, this week—keep it right in front of them, and communicate it quickly. When the future is unclear, the demand for some sort of guidepost, even in the short-term, will make a world of difference.
  • Medals are rarely awarded during times of peace.” (-Price Pritchett) Rapid change bears a few gifts, one of which is the opportunity for heroic acts from untapped resources. When “speed” is added to the mix, employees are asked to stretch themselves—new roles, new projects, new expectations, new opportunity.
  • Life goes on. For many, there’s no fairy-tale ending in the integration. Jobs are eliminated, redundancies are remedied, people are terminated. The quicker these determinations are made, the quicker you are allowing employees to move on.

The connective tissue in all of these benefits is respect. Employees (people) deserve to be fairly treated—sometimes, in our attempts to be humane, we allow our empathy to cloud our judgment.

Your employees don’t need a “wingman,” they need a leader. Put your foot on the gas.