Five Silent Killers of Urgency on Your Team

Five Silent Killers of Urgency on Your Team
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

A legend tells of the time someone asked the Devil what he missed most about Heaven.

He replied, 

“I miss the sound of the trumpets in the morning.”  

Do YOU know that sound?

The sound calling you to action.  A reason to get up. Your clarity of calling, purpose, and mission.  

Does your TEAM remember that sound?

Every so often, even the best teams lose their sense of urgency.

Urgency is not panic, it is not frantic, it is not busy work.

Urgency is that belief that what your team does MATTERS.  It matters to you, it matters to those you serve.  And that motivates you to ACT.

And yet, sometimes teams lose their sense of urgency.

They enter the doldrums, that season of stagnation, that period of lackluster performance, when your team seems to lose their motivation.  

That’s because there are Urgency Assassins out there.  Silent stalkers of motivation.  They are searching for ways to deflate your team, and derail their progress.

And you, Leader, have to suss these out, surface them, and address them to keep urgency alive.

What are these silent killers of urgency, and how can you protect your team from them?

Five Silent Killers of Urgency on Your Team:

1. Lack of Clarity

Clarity is the Holy Grail of teams.  Teams hunger for clarity around three questions:

  • Why do we exist?
  • Why does your work matter?
  • What matters most today/in this situation?

When these answers are murky, so is their motivation.  

Action Step:  Your number one role as a leader of a team is to mine for clarity.  Asking clarifying questions constantly.  Start with the three above–if you cannot answer these, they for sure will get stuck.  For more help, check out The Holy Grail of Teams 

2. Lack of Confidence

We all want to win.  And that means we tend to drift towards what we KNOW we can do to win.  We gravitate towards what we know we can do well, NOT always what we have been asked to do. 

When I found myself unmotivated for a task, I often retreated back to writing sermons.  I knew that would give me the sense of “winning,” even if it was not what I SHOULD have been shooting for.

Action Step: Ask unconfident team members:  “What’s the real challenge here for YOU?” Identify what they need–training, repetition, permission, equipping–to see this task as one they can win.  For more guidance on getting them unstuck , click HERE.

3.  Boredom 

I know that Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule has been somewhat debunked.  But the idea that 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert still has merit.  And after 10,000 hours, we can get good enough at a skill to start to check out.  To go on autopilot.

Rubber bands need tension to do their jobs.  How can you create tension with a bored team?

Stretch them.  

Action Step: Ask, “What is something you have always wanted to tackle, fix, or solve for our team?”  Offer them the chance to take this on…as long as they still handle their current responsibilities.

Bonus:  This WILL require them to turn what they do over to a system they create, or a person they develop.  Either way, they are freed to focus on the challenge–and challenge kills boredom.

4.    Anxiety.

This is one silent killer I am late to the game on.  I failed to recognize anxiety lurking below many of the behaviors of my team.  

  • The anxiety of fear:  Will I fail?
  • The anxiety of insecurity:  Will I be exposed as an imposter?
  • The anxiety of resentment:  Why are others rewarded instead of me?

Anxiety comes out in different ways.  Sometimes in bluster, sometimes in timidity, but often expressed through lack of urgency.  

Action Step: This doesn’t have an easy fix.  But one place to start is with YOUR anxiety as a leader.  When you begin to recognize and address anxiety in your life, you can better lead others through their.

5. Feeling Overwhelmed

Finally, sometimes your team lacks urgency because there is just too much on their plate.  And your “new idea” or “exciting challenge,” or “Big Hairy Audacious Goal,” falls on exhausted ears.  

As a leader, you constantly monitor and adjust two things for your team: Pace and Priority.  So you have to be aware of the difference between people who are unmotivated and those who are overloaded.  

Action Step:  Check out two questions your team SHOULD be asking you when they feel overloaded, and learn to ask them yourself.

Want your team to hear the trumpets again?  When you sense the urgency of your team beginning to wane, run through this grid and make sure you are protecting your flank in front of these five silent killers.

N.B.  Sometimes you meet someone you just CAN’T seem to motivate.  Click HERE to find out why.

Thomas helps leaders navigate what’s next in their leadership, lives, and teams.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him HERE.

Photo by Fengyou Wan on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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