“Own the game clock.”—  from Alan‘s Willett’s Lead With Speed

“Urgent! Hurry! I needed this two weeks ago!”

This is the litany that many leaders hear over and over in their careers. Often the needs are great.  Often it is true that it was needed two weeks ago, even if that need only became apparent in the last five minutes.

The question is: How do we as leaders respond to this pressure?

There is an extraordinary difference between how good leaders and exceptional leaders respond to this type of pressure.

Good leaders respond by putting pressure on themselves and their team. They say there is no time for planning so they urgently dive into solving the problem.  They drop the process. The stress and sweat of the leader and the team are visible to everyone. It is clear they are treating this very seriously!  To an outsider, it also might look a bit like panic.

These leaders may get the job done, but there is too often collateral damage in the things that were dropped, the high-stress levels for the whole team, and often the stress levels of the customers as well.

Exceptional leaders tackle the urgency differently. They execute the process they use for “ordinary” issues, and they do so with urgency but without panic.

  1. Understand the urgency.
  2. Prioritize how handling this urgent need will impact other deliverables.
  3. Turn over every rock in looking for the best, fastest ways to get this done even if that means asking for more resources or people beyond their organizational control.
  4. Make a commitment they can keep or beat.  They will let everyone know how long it will really take and how often the status of progress will be provided.  
  5. Let everyone know that the team will continue to push for speed and look for opportunities to go faster.
  6. Lead the team with the thrill of solving difficult problems. The mindset will be “we can and will do this.”  
  7. Exude calm and confidence.  

The exceptional leader will share the thrill of leading with speed with the team and the team’s customers.

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I have my T-Shirt and I am thrilled with the quality.  Would you like a free awesome T-Shirt? There are 9 days left to get bonus gifts with pre-ordering Lead With Speed. Check them out right here.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

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