332 Chapters
Medium 9781626569430

20 Develop a Sense of Urgency

Tracy, Brian Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


Perhaps the most outwardly identifiable quality of high-performing men and women is action orientation. They are in a hurry to get their key tasks completed.

Highly productive people take the time to think, plan, and set priorities. They then launch quickly and strongly toward their goals and objectives. They work steadily, smoothly, and continuously. As a result, they seem to power through enormous amounts of work in the same amount of time that the average person spends socializing, wasting time, and working on low-value activities.

When you work on your most important tasks at a high and continuous level of activity, you can actually enter into an amazing mental state called “flow.” Almost everyone has experienced this at some time. Really successful people are those who get themselves into this state far more often than the average person.

When you’re in the state of flow, which is the highest human state of performance and productivity, something almost miraculous happens to your mind and emotions. You feel elated and clear. Everything you do seems effortless and accurate. You feel happy and energized. You experience a tremendous sense of calm and increased personal effectiveness.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626562028


Lerner, Helene Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

At this very moment, you have everything you need to take a leap—your strengths, talents, intuition, imperfections—all of your different parts. Trust your impulse to make a difference—to speak up and introduce an idea or to go for a bigger position.

Keep moving forward even though mad mind-chatter may be telling you to hold back. Don’t accept that negative self-talk as truth. Question it. The truth is that you are talented beyond measure, and the time for personal change is now. The world needs every bit of your resourcefulness.

These last pages will help prepare you to step up in a new way. Let the inspiring words of these risk-taking leaders support you. They took action even when they felt shaky, and each of them is better off for it. I encourage you to do the same.

If you’re asked to do a stretch assignment, go for it even if you don’t feel ready. If your supervisor thinks you can do it, trust her judgment.

There were times in my career where I was given a job and I felt sick to my stomach. I thought, I do not have any knowledge that will allow me to succeed in this job. On one occasion, there were forty people around the table, the smartest people in the business, who had been managing the operation for thirty years. I kept thinking, I’m sitting at the head of the table and I have to solve this problem. What helped me get through it was that I told myself, “My managers would not have put me here if they did not think I could do it.”

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626563254

#41 Lead from the Front

Manning, John Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

The Disciplined Leader must inspire others to achieve goals and support the leader’s vision for success. It’s a strategy that every leader must execute to ensure he or she is focused on and delivering in relationship to The Vital Few.

But what exactly do I mean by someone who inspires? I’m certainly not talking about a leader who has loads of energy. And I’m not alluding to a boss who is emotional or charismatic, per se. In fact, some of the best leaders I’ve worked for weren’t very emotional or naturally charismatic at all. However, what they did consistently demonstrate was a passion for the business, their organization, and their team by being front and center. Whether times were good or bad, these leaders remained visible and engaged in the process. Like committed captains of a ship, they had the wisdom to know that if they hid from the storms or were detached from their crew, the consequences would be detrimental.

Just like these leaders, employees are watching to see how front and center you are. Even if they don’t verbalize it, they’re paying attention to your level of engagement with them and with the organization as a whole. Remaining front and center is how you can demonstrate and accomplish those objectives. Creating greater discipline around this practice will build consensus and win your employees’ critical respect and loyalty. Ultimately, this leadership discipline will inspire others to achieve goals.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781523083657

1. The Arrow of Time

Wheatley, Margaret J. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Everything Has a Beginning, a Middle, and an End

Machines wear down and die.

Living systems, if they learn and adapt, do not.

— Margaret Wheatley

The observable Universe and everything in it moves in one direction: from birth to death, from hot to cold, from creative energy to useless energy, from order to disorder. Everything comes from what preceded it. Nothing is reversible. This is the Arrow of Time.

The arrow of time applies to all closed systems in the known Universe, but the new sciences revealed that it is not the predetermined fate of living systems. A living system has permeable boundaries and sense-making capacities. It is an open system, capable of exchanging energy with its environment rather than using up a finite amount. If it opens to its environment, it takes in information, a form of energy. It notices changes and disturbances that it then processes, free to choose its response.

This is life’s essential process—using cognition and self-organization to adapt and change. A living system can reorganize itself to become more fit, in the evolutionary sense, to survive. Through its exchanges of information, it creates newness and diversity, sustaining itself through shifts, crises, and catastrophes. All of this is possible and commonplace as long as the system remains open, willing to learn and adapt.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781626562028

5 Stand Out and Attract Sponsors

Lerner, Helene Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub


The competition for sponsors is fierce— standing out and getting one is too difficult.


I can attract and build important power alliances.

We all know that being successful in business requires building strong relationships. But do we take enough time to do it? With constant deadlines to adhere to, we may rationalize that sitting at our desks uninterrupted and using the phone and Internet to contact people is enough.

Yes, excelling at our day-to-day tasks is important, and you may be recognized for the excellence of your work, but will that lead to access to higher-ups who can put your name on a slate when a job opens up? Possibly, but don’t assume that will happen. Take every opportunity to meet the power players. Get out of your familiar surroundings, and seek out opportunities to mix with those calling the shots.

In the last several years, a lot of buzz has been circulating about sponsors and what they can do to help women advance. In Smart Women Take Risks I wrote, “Opportunities happen when someone in charge believes in you and takes a chance on your behalf by opening a door.”1 That someone in charge is a sponsor.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters