Recently I had the opportunity to work on a small team, but I found myself disengaged. The leader was complaining that we needed to get to work. He accused us of having no sense of urgency.
I had to admit: it was true.
Upon reflection, I realized my lack of urgency was due to the fact that I felt no responsibility towards achieving our goals. I was just working. I was following instructions, sure, but didn’t feel like my effort truly mattered.
If your team needs a boost of urgency, here are a few things to consider:
1. Empowerment. Have you enabled the team to achieve the results in a manner that lets them fully utilize their talents? Are you willing to stop managing the effort, and focus on leadership? These are different concepts. Recognize where you are, and adjust your style to match the situation.
2. Vision. Does your team know, understand, and share your view of the final result? How do you know? How often are you trying to paint the picture for them? What part do they play in creating what will exist in the end? Why is it important?
3. Recognition. People need recognition for their effort. The level of recognition varies by individual. Some people need public recognition. Others just need a quiet word of thanks. Some people don’t want recognition at all. How well do you know the needs of the people on your team? Are you effectively keeping them engaged?
Several years ago, I led a team that thrived. We achieved our goals nearly every week. One of the highlights was a shared breakfast on Friday mornings. If we hit our targets for the week, we had breakfast delivered. It was a simple way to say thank you, and to motivate the team. The weekly attainment of goals along with our shared breakfast became a habit we all enjoyed.
It was simple. It worked. You don’t need to over complicate a sense of engagement with your team. I find that authentic, heartfelt, appreciation works best.
How do you show appreciation? Here are two principles:
The Power of Sacrifice
Everything worthwhile is uphill. I’ve been pointing this out for a while now, but the more I think about it, the more I know it’s true. Whether you’re talking about personal growth, personal health, business, or some other aspect of life, nothing of value is easy. The precious things in life require something in exchange.
That’s why appreciation often includes sacrifice. Maybe it’s a small gift out of your own pocket. Maybe it’s a kind word that decreases your own ego. Or maybe it’s doing someone a favor that’s out of your way.
Listening Is an Overlooked Leadership Tool
We usually think leadership is about talking. But listening creates an environment of safety when done well. Several studies over the decades have estimated that we spend anywhere from a third to half our time listening–and yet we don’t retain very much.
Listening is a form a sacrifice. You’re choosing to pay attention to someone else rather than insist they pay attention to you. And that, in itself, is appreciation.
So why not try listening to someone to show them you care and help get your team re-engaged?
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” —Leonardo da Vinci
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” —Martin Luther King Jr.
“Because we believe that one moment is more or less like the next, we lose touch with the essential urgency of the present, the fact that each passing moment is the one moment for the practice of freedom.” —Robert Grudin
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower