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The Urgency Imperative

Jul 01, 2020

Uncategorized

John Kotter, a well-known change expert, defines urgency as a combination of
thinking, attitudes, and behaviors. Urgency is a hyper-alertness and represents a
commitment to addressing an important issue that suddenly arises, whether inside
or outside of the organization. When organizational leaders are disconnected from
the external world, their followers are insulated from external threats to
organizational success and thus disconnected from the internal operational
elements of the organization, resulting in organizational inertia.

Any organization that lacks a sense of urgency loses to organizational inertia, the
status quo, and complacency. Once this condition takes hold, the organization enters
a decline and ultimately faces a state of demise. An example of a leader expressing a
sense of urgency was Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, in 1863 just prior to the Battle of
Gettysburg. Not a professional soldier but a college professor prior to the Civil War,
he eloquently stated, “Men, I think if we lose this battle, we lose the war.”
While most people may not know the history, Chamberlain’s courageous
stand on the hilltop named Little Round Top on the second day of the battle is
credited with saving the Union Army at the Battle of Gettysburg. His courage and
ability to influence the behavior of his men are lessons for us all and frame the core
of the US Army’s leadership development credo “Be-Know-Do.”

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