Suppose complacency and false urgency act as a brake, slowing growth and business innovation. In that case, true urgency is the correct force propelling a company into the future guided by change leadership. True urgency is a positive and highly focused force that focuses on the most critical tasks with deeply felt determination to move fast and win now.
I’ve talked at length about both complacency and false urgency; they are two common opposites and generally hidden behaviors that erode a company. Complacency is comfortable with the status quo feeling derived from past success. False urgency looks busy with a flurry of activity, but because it’s motivated by fear and anxiety, the action is busywork, not concentrated on the most important thing.
True urgency is a concept of Harvard Professor Dr. John Kotter’s 40 years of research, which behaves differently. It is focused energy, driven, and undergirded by vision reinforced by a change leadership mindset. To create true urgency requires excellent boundary setting.
Start with your calendar. A crazed, over-booked leader cannot be genuinely urgent with a full schedule. Low-value meetings need to be delegated or canceled. Superfluous projects, distracting from the mission and vision of the company, should be eliminated to free up time and energy on genuinely urgent tasks.
A change leadership leader who operates with urgency is one who delegates—being able to delegate forces a leader to hire well because you must trust and grow those you empower. Delegating tasks also reduces micromanaging, improving the environment within the office and employee satisfaction. Good leaders know when to delegate and when to cut something completely; they also don’t allow subordinates to delegate back up the chain of command.
With more room freed up during the day, the urgent leader responds immediately to calls, requests for meetings, and emails on high-priority issues. These become urgent actions that propel the company forward. A visionary leader can be confident that these action items are truly urgent because the whole ship is moving in the right direction.
During the meetings, a change leader communicates clearly about who will do what tasks and when they need to be completed. Speaking about specifics with clarity allows a team to move with speed. Moving with speed is a result of simplifying and prioritizing the right actions and tasks.
Teaching a team or employee to behave with urgency on the right tasks and projects requires that the leader communicate the value to move, adapt, and stay ahead of the competition. A change leadership mindset, paired with the change management motor, helps the company proceed with agility and adjust to change and the unexpected. Leaders speak with feeling; they are passionate, and their infectious passion will influence and motivate the people around them.
A leader who acts on their words is a leader people will follow. So don’t just talk about exploring new ideas and opportunities, do it (after all, your calendar should now have some gaps in it!). Be the visible symbol you want your team to become. Be real. Be authentic. Be as visible as possible to as many people as possible. Let your true urgency be on display.
True urgency creates the belief that great opportunities are ahead. It allows for the spark of raw creativity and innovation to light a fire. It gives vision to what is possible and sets the path towards it. It eliminates the fluff and low priority items, freeing people to move with more speed and agility. Giving employees freedom and time to dream engages their head and heart, and the energy formed from passionate engagement is unstoppable. As a result, employees transform into people who daily seize the real opportunities and avoid the actual hazards that happen every day.
True urgency can be transformative. It allows both leaders and employees to live consciously and with purpose. Workers become responsible for their actions because they are empowered to do so. They understand that they need to change before seeing a change in others and blaming bosses and coworkers for unmet expectations.
Taking responsibility for their actions is a characteristic of a change-leadership leader—regardless of position in the organization. Motivated employees, who feel helpful and energized, are constantly looking for ways to grow, learn, and get better, and they are willing to admit mistakes with a lack of defensiveness.
People who operate in the truly urgent look for ways to say “yes” to help an opportunity succeed. They live with an encouraging sense they are empowering and inspiring others by their actions, all while purging non-value-adding activities from their schedule. An urgent mindset gets excited about what can be achieved and looks for ways to accomplish it. An urgent perspective rewards those focused on critical tasks and assists with concrete ways of helping to remove barriers.
If your team is not exceptionally alert, externally oriented, and internally aligned, you may need help casting a vision for true urgency. It is a learned skill, and I can help you create it in your organization.
I can help your team build an authentic urgency culture aimed toward winning and making progress every day. A culture constantly aimed at winning frees your company up to seize the opportunities that change ultimately creates.
Chances are you won’t have to start from scratch but relearn and add in new change-leadership principles that will change your company from the inside out. Let’s connect! I would love to hear from you today.