Posted by: chrismaser | May 10, 2010


Creating and maintaining a genuine sense of urgency to accomplish a task deemed important is a sign of an effective leader. I say this because, in my experience, people seldom act singly, much less collectively, in the absence of a feeling of real urgency.

Consider, for example, that most people steadfastly refuse to deal with making out a will, let alone prearranging their own funeral (even for the benefit of their children), until it is absolutely necessary. And then they balk because of the sense of finality, which brings with it a foreboding.

Part of the reason for the palpable finality and foreboding is that, until now—this instant—dealing with one’s will and funeral arrangements were abstractions somewhere in the future. Suddenly, the circumstance is not only in the present—in the here and now—but also concrete in the person’s experience, which to most people is frightening; hence their avoidance.

Therefore, one of the daunting tasks, should a leader seriously want to accomplish something for the benefit of the people (such as crafting and implementing a vision for a sustainable future), is to create and maintain a sense of urgency about that which is important—even for the immediate public good. Without a sense of urgency, most people languish because it’s easier to deal with a mediocre but known (concrete) present than it is to work toward an excellent but unknown (abstract) future. And for the sake of the future, one must know how to give and receive good counsel.

Series on Leadership Challenges:

Return to the First Set of Posts

• Avoiding Self-Deception

• Over-Investment In Followers

• The Value Of Humor

• Coping With Someone You Dislike

• Imagine Yourself As Different People

• Inspiring Performance

• Nurturing Creativity

• Making Do With What You Have

• Establishing Realistic Objectives

• Give Counsel, Not Advice

• The Questions We Ask

• Burnout

• Leadership Within Organizations

Text © by Chris Maser, 2010. All rights reserved.

Protected by Copyscape Web Copyright Protection

This article is excerpted from my 1998 book, Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Development. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL. 235 pp. It is updated in my 2012 book, Decision Making For A Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. If you want more information about this book, want to purchase it, or want to contact me—visit my website.

If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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