Creative Thinking


When we reach this time of year, it seems that everyone is talking about resolutions and how the next 12 months can be the greatest year yet. Conversations tend to focus on budgets and goals; we revisit mission statements and the values that our companies represent. I’m a huge proponent of having direction and goals, but simply writing a business plan doesn’t guarantee instant success in the New Year.

One of the best ways to ensure you have the greatest 2014 possible is to check in with your level of personal urgency surrounding your overall business goals. Do you have an obvious drive that is felt throughout the entire organization, or is waiting a few days acceptable when implementing a new sales technique or a profit-improving policy? One of the most common traits of contractors who are exceptionally successful is that they understand how to create and, more importantly, maintain a higher level of urgency than their competition.

Whatever you do, don’t confuse a sense of urgency with a state of emergency. A state of emergency is not sustainable. People cannot thrive and be their very best with a negative connotation surrounding their daily work lives. As I spend my time onsite coaching and training contractors, I usually know within about 15 minutes after I walk in the door of the business what level of urgency is in the building.

Companies with a clearly understood sense of urgency consistently outperform other businesses because their culture is defined by getting things done as efficiently and profitably as possible. Achieving the goal and getting better results is imperative, but it doesn’t come across as an emergency.

Most of us can remember the urgency we felt when we initially started in this business or jumped into our first management position. We were excited, things were fun and we were thriving on growth. We were completely focused on the next productive task and how we could keep positive momentum and results flowing.


Don’t kill creative thinking

Think about a manager you’ve worked for in the past who operated from a state of emergency. How productive was this style of leadership? Oddly enough, many leaders subconsciously enjoy being in a state of emergency. In fact, I’ve personally hired managers in the past who would actually create emergencies so they could swoop in and be the problem-solvers.

This is incredibly unproductive and they are always so “busy” that they are unable to be proactive when it comes to implementing improved practices in the business. Urgency comes from good leadership, but a state of emergency mindset will kill the creative thinking in the building as well as lead your team to a place of mediocrity.

Emergencies are always reactive because we’re forced to quickly make decisions or fight a current fire that is burning out of control in the business. On the other hand, a well-led and -communicated sense of urgency is proactive and drives improved results. It begins and ends with the top leaders and managers in the business.

I was recently onsite with one of the largest and fastest-growing service contractors in the country. If there is one thing that is clearly understood in each of the organization’s locations is that today is the only day we have to achieve specific results. Tomorrow is not good enough; today is the day. This is a company that has been experiencing major growth for years now, yet it’s leaders are not allowing themselves to become comfortable because they recognize the potential surrounding them and the risks associated with a sense of comfort.

I believe that comfort zones are one of the most dangerous things in our lives because they can squash growth and lead to mediocrity. I’m not advocating that you run around with your hair on fire to get the maximum amount of work done that you possibly can in one day. In fact, having a completely full schedule can be an urgency killer because you’re always just busy, but usually not busy with the most productive tasks.

As a top leader in your business, you must decide what level of urgency you can personally demonstrate.


Ultimate role model

You are the ultimate role model for your company, so you must establish a consistent message and behave with a daily sense of determination. You need to demonstrate urgency with your communications to your team whether it’s through face-to-face meetings, group phone calls, emails or any other method. Always back up your communications with unwavering, focused action.

Your actions should be steadily aimed toward winning at the highest level possible while chasing your goals. Perhaps you don’t want to have a huge multimillion-dollar company. That is completely fine. I’m a huge fan of designing objectives that work for you specifically and hold your company to a standard that will help you accomplish personal goals.

That being said, if you only want to have four trucks on the road, you must still operate with a behavior of urgency to get the very best from those four trucks.

As you begin demonstrating and effectively communicating a daily sense of urgency, things will change in your business. Team members start to understand that rapid adjustment and improvement is a necessary part of winning. They act quickly, pull themselves out of emergencies faster, learn what they can from situations and get back to producing better results with a sharp focus.

As we head into another calendar year, examine the urgency aspect of your leadership style and your overall business. Apply this to what you want to achieve in 2014 and I can guarantee that you will find at least one area of your company lacking urgency.

Set goals with a deadline attached to each one of your objectives and hold yourself accountable for strategically reaching your goals. Think of them as things you must accomplish, not things you’d like to accomplish. Make goals known to your team and the people around you so it becomes a bit easier to hold yourself to the utmost standard.

Don’t simply set goals for 2014; go after them with an increased sense of urgency.