$schemamarkup = get_post_meta(get_the_ID(), 'Schema', true); if(!empty($Schema)) { echo $ Schema ; } 7 Ways to Prevent False Urgency - Let's Grow Leaders

Karin’s Leadership Articles

Even if you’re the most human-centered leader your team has ever worked for, it’s possible you could be creating false urgency from time to time.

After all, you’re a great boss and your employees trust you. If you think something is important so do they.

Of course, they may think your request is extra important because it came from you, and drop everything to get to it right away.

Yes, you want your team to act with true urgency about what matters most. And, one of the most important skills you can teach them is to distinguish what those Most Important Things (MITs) are.

How Leaders Unknowingly Create False Urgency

Even if you’re not trying to create false urgency, if you are the “boss” and you say “jump” (through your words or unintentional reactions), your team will likely start jumping.

Since it’s difficult to jump and do much else at the same time, the important work you really want your team to do gets put to the side.

And if YOUR boss reacts with false urgency and YOU start jumping, they will likely jump higher or deeper.

In fact, your team may begin anticipating your reactions and doing all kinds of jumping and gymnastics without being asked.  More balls are dropped in all that jumping in reaction to the false urgency.

In many organizations, the whole urgent vs. important matrix is trumped when someone in authority has a need. Suddenly issues that would normally fall into the “urgent but not important” category become the most important in a false urgency crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

How To Stay Focused on the Truly Urgent

You can prevent false urgency by following seven important guidelines.

1. Build an environment that encourages constructive dissent.

Give your team the authority to slow you down (see Give the Guy a Brake). Teach your team our I.N.S.P.I.R.E. method to productively share their concerns.

In our research on psychological safety that led to our book Courageous Cultures, 40% of respondents said they lacked the confidence to share their ideas. This article is a helpful conversation starter to encourage people to speak up, share their ideas, and encourage constructive dissent.

2. Pause before reacting.

Breathe. Work to manage your emotions and facial expressions. Your team will take their queues from the look on your face and your tone of voice. Consider the deeper implications of your immediate frustration.

If they drop everything to handle this fire drill, it helps to consider what they’re putting aside to make that happen.

3.  Buffer your team from unrealistic urgency from above.

Learn to set realistic expectations around what is important

When assigning tasks, be sure to “schedule the finish (one of our 6 leadership competencies you can’t lead without.

4. Isolate the incident from the trend.

To prevent false urgency, avoid the temptation to extrapolate one bad occurrence to an organization-wide problem. Ask for the data you need, but not more than you need to differentiate this.

5. Ensure you understand what work is being replaced by your urgent request.

Is what you need really the Most Important Thing?

6. Stay humble

Ensure your team is working on what is important, not doing everything you say because YOU are important.

The false urgency headwinds are against you on this. Your team will want to please you. They may think, “Hey, well at least I accomplished something today (as they set aside their more challenging work.). And, the boss is happy.”

What may feel like satisfying action in the short term may actually be undermining your long-term results.

Your turn.

What would you add? What’s your best advice for preventing false urgency?

Team Accelerator for Empowered Team

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)

    Keeping an attitude that a leaders primary duty is to serve his/her team members is critical. It’s not my job to “run” our organization. It’s to equip and lead my team as they run the show. My goal is to make my team look good….and not by offering free haircare products, not that kind of good. You get my point I’m sure.

  2. Karin Hurt

    Eric, what? You don’t get involved in the grooming 😉 Thanks for sharing… i completely agree… thanks for adding.. “my goal is to make my team look good.” Exactly.

  3. Jennifer V. Miller


    These are all such great points. I think my favorite is #4 – why is it human nature to see one “bad thing” and then it becomes “we always” or “there’s a trend developing”? Great advice to take a deep breath and isolate – is it an anomaly or a true trend.

  4. letsgrowleaders

    Jennifer, Great to have see you hear. Thanks so much for joining the conversation. Really enjoyed your post as well.

  5. Ryan

    I have seen the impact false gravity can create. Rush out of the gates and end up with sloppy or sometimes incomplete results.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Ryan, so glad to have your insights! Thanks for sharing yes… gravity can be sloppy.



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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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