Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Sense of Urgency

Do you have a sense of urgency about what you do, or, are you a procrastinator?

I love people who have a sense of urgency; these are my kind of people, people who get things done and produce results.

It’s a delicate balance though, ensuring that those of us who have that high sense of urgency are not misunderstood.  I know that for me, on occasion, my high sense of urgency has been misinterpreted by some and seen as either impatience on my part, or, an unreasonable level of accountability to which I have held my team members.

To avoid this, I have always made a habit of asking people who take on or are assigned specific tasks to set their own due dates.  Sure, I may have to ask them to conform to a certain time table in some instances, but wherever possible, I encourage my team members to establish their own time lines for completing projects, to heighten their sense of ownership and control of the situation and to demonstrate my commitment to empowering them as leaders.

The flip side, and I always make sure that my team members understand this going in, is an associated high level of accountability.  You take on a task and set your own time table, then I expect you to meet that deadline, and the majority of the time, if you have high performers in your midst, they will meet their deadlines and willingly take on more.

You know who these people are if they are in your operation and whether you recognize it or not, you have grown to count on them, and you hate it when they are not around.  (I used to hate it when my number 2, who had a tremendous sense of urgency and an equally amazing capacity for getting things done, would take extra days off or go on holidays.  It felt like nothing that I delegated to anyone else in her absence ever got done.  I was so used to, (and spoiled by), her high sense of urgency and her energy and the fact that whenever I followed up with her on anything, her response was almost always; “done.”)

More so, if you have had a person with that great sense of urgency working with you in a pivotal role, and they have left, usually because their talents and results have been recognized, and they have been promoted and transferred to another hotel, it has felt like the momentum has been sucked out of the operation in the days and weeks that followed.

I think the hotel business just naturally lends itself to attracting a high percentage of people with that sense of urgency about them, there is just too much to be done, too much multi-tasking required, and too many people counting on you for you to able to exist with a lackadaisical attitude.

I also find that, for the most part anyway, people who don’t possess that sense of urgency simply don’t survive in our business, they can’t.  As they try to exist by putting things off, and adding them to their ever-increasing list of things that they will get done, someday, their teams and their peers, grow intolerant of their lack of results, and sooner or later they are held accountable.

And you can’t teach it, you either have a high sense of urgency, or you don’t, it’s just that simple.

I wish you could teach it, then maybe I wouldn’t still be comparing every other leader I have ever worked with with that exceptional woman and expecting them to get as much done as she did.

We work with so many great, talented people that cross our paths, but every now and again, we work with someone truly exceptional who serves to set the bar higher for all those that follow in their footsteps.

"Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value." ~ Jim Rohn

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