We need a ‘sense of urgency’

Has a ‘moment of silence’ replaced a ‘sense of urgency’? In a time when we’ve run out of words, maybe we can find a path to action in the advice of a leadership guru.

I was in Lancaster, Pennsylvania this past weekend, at a retreat with a group of ‘millennials’ whose common bond is a college scholarship financed by an amazing philanthropic couple.

Early Sunday morning, there was news of a shooting in Orlando. With few details, numb to the continuing violence in our country, we joined our small group discussions, formulating solutions to the most challenging problems for the next president. We did not discuss gun safety.

As I drove home Sunday afternoon, through the farmland and burgeoning developments that dot the Pennsylvania landscape, I listened to the story emerging from Florida, in the unsteady voices of seasoned journalists who were reporting one more time from a scene of unimaginable violence.

Early Sunday morning another group of millennials, whose common bond was their identity as LBGT, celebrated life in a club, ‘Pulse’, in Orlando. Many did not return home through the central Florida landscape of Universal and Disney.

I have watched too many news reports over the past 48 hours. I finally turned away after watching Anderson Cooper of CNN deliver a heartbreaking narrative of those who lost their lives.

Enough.

We should be safe @school, @work, @home and @play.

I want our leaders to pause for a moment of silent remembrance, but I also want them to be leaders. I want them to represent their special interests, their constituents.

And I want millennials to assume ownership, set the agenda, and take action; before more members of the most promising generation are lost.

We need a sense of urgency. Professor of Leadership Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, John Kotter‘s 2008 advice to business leaders has equal resonance with our challenge today, “create a sense of urgency by getting people to actually see and feel the need for change. Why focus on urgency? Without it, any change effort is doomed by insidious nature of complacency in all its forms and guises.” Step One – “overcome the fear and anger that can suppress urgency.”

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