Key Moral Leadership Practice #1: Start With a Pause

The hallmark of moral leadership is the Pause.

Perhaps counterintuitively, the faster the world gets, the more we need to pause. Pausing is one of the most essential and most powerful practices moral leaders have to build self-knowledge, relate to the needs of their teams and stakeholders, and move forward in a more deliberate, purposeful, and inspired way. As Emerson once said, “in each pause we heard the call.”

Pausing creates space for leaders to reflect on the world and the situation at hand, reconnect with their core values and relationships, rethink their understanding, and reimagine the future. At first, it’s an investment to build a practice of pausing. But pausing isn’t about time or breaking away from the work at hand. Moral leaders build the moral muscle needed to pause in stride, developing the wisdom to ask the right questions at the right time.

The research in the December 2022 State of Moral Leadership in Business report confirms that the imperative for moral leadership is more urgent than ever. Data collected from 2,500 employees across a variety of sectors in the United States demonstrates a deep desire to work with and for moral leaders. Furthermore, our research found that managers in the top-tier for moral leadership are substantially more likely to pause with their teams.

We live in a world that moves fast. It’s increasingly easy to feel like life is something that happens to us, rather than something that we steer, guided by the compass of our values. Start the Pause.

info graphic that show employees with managers who pause are 4 times more likely to agree the people on their team speak out when they see something unethical, 5x more likely to agree people on their team experiment and try new ideas and 4x more likely to agree people on their team have the freedom to cultivate new skills.
Data graph that shows 87% of employees who report to a top tier manager agree they have a manager that discusses current events in way that helps them have insight into new social issues that may impact their work. 88% agree they have managers that reminds them of the connection between their work and the impact they are looking to have in the world.
data graph that shows 85% of employees with a top tier manager are more likely to agree that when conflict arises, managers help them resist the urge to make demands and helps them build a shared understanding with those stakeholders. 88% are more likely to agree that they have a manager who shares inspiring stories of impact with them and their team.