Too often a vision statement is just some words hung on a plaque in the lobby. A Great Purpose, to have power, must create and sustain urgency for all the daily chores that serve that Great Purpose. Everyday frustrations demotivate people who don’t understand the value of the work they do. But those who see the urgency of their work apply creativity and collaboration to overcome problems and to continuously improve.
In The Serving Leader, Admiral Rock Butler said it this way: “Serving Leaders are in pursuit of something great. Not something puny, but something really important… Important enough to live for… Important enough to die for.”
How does a serving leader introduce a good kind of urgency into everyday work? Not by injecting fear and panic! Many supervisors use carrots and sticks to drive performance. Fear produces a short-lived and frightened commotion; fear does not produce a sustained and fearless concentration.
Urgency, in service of greatness, comes from a completely different source.
First, serving leaders use important goals and milestones to help people see the progress being made toward the Great Purpose. The more people are able to personally track their progress on a daily basis, the better focus they have on the ultimate purpose being served for their customers.
Second, serving leaders focus on the positive, looking to catch people doing the right thing and promptly recognizing and rewarding that behavior. And here’s a key: the best reward for a worker is the chance to see, first-hand, how the daily work serves the customer. Assembling what can appear to be a widget in the factory transforms into saving lives and serving people when the end-user’s story gets back to the people who did the work.
Third, serving leaders understand where true and sustained urgency comes from. Human beings are made to find purpose for their lives in the service of others. The powerful way to create sustained urgency into everyday work is to provide a compelling and emotional reason to care, a direct connection between the daily work and a heart of service.
“Create and Sustain Urgency for Your Vision” is the second part of the Serving Leader Action called Run to Great Purpose, which we model and teach in the The Serving Leader Development System. Great leadership doesn’t “come naturally;” it must be learned. Specific, master-able behaviors will transform the leader that you are today into a leader who truly makes a difference, for your workers first, and ultimately for the world.