One of the best things about this time of the year is the feeling that we have the opportunity to begin again. Even though we know, deep down inside, that all things past may still have their consequences and repercussions, that feeling of being able to start over persists. Maybe it is because we are “hope mongers”, as a good friend once describe humanity to me. Hope for a better future is what keeps us going, isn’t it? So, I am going to ask you to take advantage of this period of “hope” as it pertains to you as a leader.
Like any good business, taking inventory is a good first step to a better future. Take a look back over the past year and identify your successes as well as the places where you know you can improve. On the success front for this year, I could name quite a few, but a few stand out. I was able to wrap up a year of self-employment feeling pretty good about the progress that I had made in starting my own coaching and consulting business. It felt pretty good knowing that I could be successful in doing something that I am passionate about and to realize that I can actually make a decent living at it. As good as that felt, it felt even better to be recruited by one of my clients to join them as an executive coach and Sr. Director of Leadership Development. I am still doing most of the things I love to do, without having to worry about some of the less pleasant aspects of being a business owner. In addition, I have been able to help my new company launch several executive development programs that have been well received. I have also been on the leading edge of designing a new and exciting in-depth program for the development of our more senior executives that we will launch in the new year. In all of this I have learned a great deal about the Healthcare industry and have a new appreciation for the leaders who lead in a very complex and highly regulated environment. I have also continued to grow in my appreciation for the power of leadership. I have had the privilege and opportunity to provide coaching and consulting in a wide variety of organizations and industries, and can affirm that leadership is the single most important ingredient differentiating the good from the great.
In addition to the professional accomplishments, my wife and I were able to sell a house in the Atlanta area that had been on the market for over 18 months, and we didn’t even take too much of a beating. I felt that was pretty good in that particular market. I also had the privilege of officiating at the wedding of my son and his new bride. I was humbled and honored to be asked and was blessed to have been a part of such a special occasion in their lives.
Areas for improvement: Again, they are numerous, and there are probably many areas that I need to improve upon, that I don’t recognize, because they are my blind spots. (read more about Blind Spots in my November 2010 postings) So, one area for improvement is for me to be open to feedback that will make me more aware of these. More specifically, however, I believe I still have a long way to go in learning to navigate the internal workings of a new organization in an industry that is still new to me and that is undergoing significant change. I am glad to have a great coach and several colleagues who are committed to helping me navigate these waters successfully.
After taking inventory, it is a good idea to envision a more positive future. In other words, what kind of leader do you want to be a year from now? What kind of things will you be doing differently? How will you know that you are a more effective leader a year from now than you are today? What kinds of things will you see happening then that are not happening today? These are just a few of the questions that will help you get a better fix on your desired future.
Once you have a clear picture of that ideal future, it is time to identify the gaps, between where you are now and what you have envisioned, and then develop strategies to close those gaps. If you have significant changes to make, you will also need to incorporate a system of accountability that will ensure that you make the changes that you say are critical to your success. That system must include people with whom you will share your goals and strategies, and who will help you be accountable to those commitments. Without this part of the process, it is likely that next year will roll around and little will have changed. After having coached hundreds of leaders, I can assure you that good intentions alone don’t count for much.
My hope for you is that this process will provide you with the clarity for a very positive and prosperous New Year.