Professor John Kotter of Harvard University wanted to know what makes some CEOs more successful. So he and his team studied the fastest growing U.S companies over a ten-year period, then examined how their chief executives behaved differently.
Was there one thing that separated the great CEOs from the ordinary ones?
There sure was.
Kotter discovered that the CEOs who got the best results in America had a very different mental attitude from the other business leaders.
They had what he calls “A Sense Of Urgency.”
Professor Kotter found that only when you have a spirit of urgency can you push your way through the admin and red tape. Only by acting with urgency can you get others to deliver on time. Only by being truly urgent in your dealings can you achieve significant things in a year.
The more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Urgency is the one thing that drives business projects forward quickly.
If you’re not urgent, people sense it and relax and move slowly. Things take ages to bear fruit. Mediocrity abounds.
The big question you may be asking of course is, are you performing with enough urgency?
Are you demanding enough? Of others, or indeed yourself?
Urgency is not an easy character trait to develop. The world doesn’t particularly like urgent people. They can seem rude. Pushy. Unreasonable. Yet being that way is often the only way to get stuff of consequence done.
As George Bernard Shaw so aptly put it, ” The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
There are several different types of urgency we should focus on if we want to achieve great things.
1. Urgency with strategic planning.
I know so many business owners who frequently procrastinate about choosing a company strategy. As a result of their strategic cowardice and complacency, they often get left behind in their industry.
(What have you been thinking about for too long? How about making a decision in the next 60 minutes on it?)
2. Urgency with other people.
Who owes you a report, product or idea? Why haven’t they sent it to you already? Do they really need that much time, or are they taking advantage of your leniency?
When you ask for a result with genuine urgency you usually move straight to the front of the other person’s line of important tasks. That’s where you deserve to be, must be, to get things done quickly.
3. Urgency in your own mind.
When I am coaching my business clients, I am always pushing them to cultivate great urgency in the way that they think. We need to see ourselves as highly time-sensitive, fast-achieving people. Only when we view ourselves this way are we likely to muster the energy and drive to make things happen at warp speed.
As the great American psychologist, William James, so often reminded us, we become what we consistently think about. If every day we have a self-image as somebody who has a real spirit of urgency, then soon we are likely to become that type of person.
So in conclusion, if you are not happy with the speed at which you are achieving in business, don’t just look at tactics, like sales, marketing, systems and the like. Spend at least as much time focusing on the one mindset that makes all the other stuff happen.
A real, deep, all-encompassing, powerful sense of urgency.