Combatting Urgency Overload

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We are in the middle of an urgency epidemic. So, how can you put yourself back in charge? Brandon Smith, Adjunct Professor at Emory University's Goizueta Business School, joins to discuss the key drivers of urgency, how to use urgency to motivate versus overwhelm your team, and tips to bring balance to yourself and your loved ones.
Brandon Smith is an Adjunct Faculty in the Practice of Management Communication at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and author of “The Hot Sauce Principle: How to Live and Lead in a World Where Everything Is Urgent All of the Time”. He is the founder of the website “The Workplace Therapist” – a resource dedicated to eliminating dysfunction at work, improving workplace health and restoring a sense of optimism and hope. Brandon has consulted numerous Fortune 100 organizations and leading individuals – and has been featured in Market Watch, Nasdaq, and Wall Street Journal.  
He joined The Goizueta Effect Podcast to discuss how we can live and lead in a world ruled by urgency – and put ourselves back in charge. As he states in his book,we are in the middle of an urgency epidemic. More and more, people find themselves in an environment that cuts them no slack, provides no respite, and is ever pushing them on. We’ll talk about the history of urgency in our culture and how things have changed over time. We’ll discuss when urgency is necessary and how you can apply it in just the right amount to bring out the best in your work and home life. And when uncontrolled urgency strikes, we’ll give you tips and best practices to protect and bring balance to yourself and your loved ones.  
Uncontrolled Urgency  
Urgency is a lot like hot sauce. When applied in the right amounts, both urgency and hot sauce can create focus and add flavor, but too much can easily overwhelm the consumer. When people and organizations face too much urgency, chaos and confusion ensues – and productivity decreases.  
What’s the History of Urgency and What Forces Drive It? 
Urgency has always been part of the human condition and is necessary for survival, change, and growth. However, in recent years, we’ve seen a major uptick.  Over the last 10 to 15 years, there have been two leading factors at play.  
First, through the advent of technology and the smart phone, many workers are “accessible” all of the time and the natural boundaries between work and life have eroded. Second, many organizations feel pressured to transform and produce more with less. With most organizations lacking strong bench strength paired with the constant availability of workers, teams are at a breaking point.  
Trust Before Urgency: A Key Component  
When you're creating urgency, you're intentionally creating a state of discomfort. Essentially, urgency is anxiety. To use this tool effectively, trust is essential.  
In “The Hot Sauce Principle: How to Live and Lead in a World Where Everything Is Urgent All of the Time”, Brandon Smith has created the following trust formula: [authenticity + vulnerability] * credibility = trust.  
If credibility goes to zero, there is no trust. To earn credibility, consistency and responsiveness are key. Authenticity and vulnerability are also extremely important, so leaders need to get comfortable being more transparent.   
Tips and Best Practices for Responding to Uncontrolled Urgency  
Too much urgency creates chaos. Overusing urgency causes a loss in productivity and creates burnout.  
In order to reduce urgency, it’s import for leaders and team to make urgent items more visible. Leaders should focus on prioritizing the number of urgent items for their teams. It’s also important that leadership has a clear sense of urgent items being handled by the team already. 
As a worker facing urgency, protecting your time is key. You need to create air in your calendar to allow time to complete the action items from endless meetings. It’s healthy and necessary for teams to have boundaries, such as no emails on weekends.  
Keeping Kids Safe from the Urgency Epidemic 
With competition for college at an all- time high, parents are getting caught up and involved in crafting the resumes and college applications for their children. They’re not creating room and space for kids to breathe and play.  
Play is where we learn agency. Play is where we learn we're enough. As a first step, parents should take a step back and make sure that they’re not getting overly involved and contributing to the urgency.  
Finding time for vacations and breaks is a great way to reduce the pressures from the world- and reconnect with family. 
Hope for the Future 
The pandemic has shifted how leaders think. They have a greater openness to authenticity and vulnerability, which can lead to higher levels of trust. In general, people have a desire for more connection and community.  
In many areas, communication and collaboration have increased and improved. Leaders are getting better and more thoughtful about clearly communicating their expectations and the why behind their decisions.  
New Release: Author Versus Editor  
Interested in learning more? Check out Brandon Smith’s new release - Author Versus Editor – set to publish in spring 2022. The book focuses on maximizing and managing our time as leaders, including tips on team structure, time management, delegation, and boundaries.   
Check out more about Brandon and his work at  
To learn more about Goizueta Business School and how principled leaders are driving positive change in business and society, visit
Combatting Urgency Overload
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