January 29, 2016

This BOG Update is brought to you by Rosanne Nelson, MBA, MA/OD, Director of Leadership Development at the ACC.

For many, the dawn of a new year brings with it a moment to reflect and pause. We fill up the champagne flutes, keep the kids up a little late, and await the countdown. One by one, all around the globe, the world finds itself connected in a magical way. A new year. We close the chapter on the year behind us, and open the door to the year ahead. Collectively, we share a natural pause. Individually, we enjoy a quiet moment to reflect.

Those moments of reflection, in the midst of so much noise, often lead us to a place of hope and gratitude. Hope for the future; gratitude for the past. In researching a little data for this article, I came to learn that approximately 50% of those that celebrate New Year's Eve will also establish resolutions for the year ahead. Again, with hope in our back pocket, the resolutions come from a place of good. Yet, here we are, almost four weeks into the new year, and you can already see the fitness club a little less crowded, and the produce aisle a little less busy. The original 50% of those resolutions, in that all-but-certain moment, are now dramatically decreased within a mere weeks' span of time. The data further asserts that we make sweeping resolutions as a reflection of our current state, not as a reflection of a future focused need. We aim to 'boil the ocean', in an effort to remedy a current-state concern.

As leaders, this is often similar to what we find in our day-to-day role/s at the start of the year. Our teams come back from time with family, with renewed energy and focus. Our organizations reboot in their own way, often without much fanfare. The new year begins. We set lofty goals. We let go of what might have been, and put pen to paper on what will be. We make plans, we set goals, and we eat fewer cookies.

And, while the myriad metric-related goals are being set within your organization/institution, I encourage you to take yourself out of the immediate present moment, and look further ahead. And, instead of listing each leadership element you wish to address, select one. Only One.

What do I need to develop in order to lead not just today, but in the future?

And, if you get stuck, the following key points will help narrow your focus a bit.

  1. Pick One Leadership Element. Think about future state of your organization / institution. Or, consider what is most critical to you personally. Sit back and ask yourself: "what is the one area that would best support my leadership effectiveness" (Hint: ask those within your network to help you see potential blind-spots). Ask yourself 'why'. Why is it important to me as a leader today? Why is this critical for the future? Let's use 'leveraging the team better', as an example.
  2. Take Baby Steps. One small habit a day, tends to support much larger success over time. If you are looking to improve 'team skills', for instance, consider breaking that goal down to a much smaller element. Perhaps: "start each meeting with a two minute check-in, unrelated to the work at hand." Over time, this small habit sends a big message...we bring our 'whole selves to work each day'...and we're all in this together. Seemingly innocuous, but you would be amazed at how effective such a small habit often proves to be over time.
  3. Hold Yourself Accountable. Write it down. Take the daily habit out of your mind, and share it with those around you. You will be amazed to see how quickly this tiny habit evolves into a larger shift over time.
  4. Revisit the 'Why'. Each quarter, go back to where you started. Revalidate the need for this personal focus area; assess the effort you are putting into the goal versus the return. Are you making progress, is the effort becoming embedded in your day-to-day, is the habit now part of your routine? Is the outcome what you expected?

Whether leading Boy Scout troop #25, or leading a team as they manage sweeping changes within your organization, little tweaks lead to big impacts over time. Leverage the power of small steps in order to achieve the big ones. And, happy new year to all!