I’ve been involved in some way with leadership success and development for 30 years, as a senior leader myself, and as a consultant and coach working with organizations of all shapes and sizes in a variety of industries and countries. This summer I asked my clients – all successful, experienced leaders – the question I ask them every year. ” What’s top-of-mind for you right now as a leader?”
The number one response was a first. “I’m overwhelmed”, many said. “So many priorities, so much complexity and change. I don’t know if I’m really leading right now. If making this week’s and this month’s numbers is leading, then I guess I’m OK.”
It’s true that the pace of change these days can make the world on Tuesday look very different than the world on Monday – every week of the year. And more than ever, it feels like there’s no time in the day for a bio break, let alone reflection or planning… the “managing” that’s critical to bringing in today’s results often wins out over the “leading” that’s needed to deliver tomorrow’s.
Tough times call for tough measures, so welcome to leadership boot camp… four weeks of commitment, four leadership essentials offered one week at a time for 90 minutes of exercise that week.
Here are some questions to help you focus on what will make or break your success in 2015 :
Answer YES or NO to each question.
- Do you have up-to-date, relevant top and bottom line financial and marketplace goals in place for 2015, for the part of the business that you own and influence (e.g. your function, region, country)? “Official” strategic goals that aren’t up-to-date or relevant for the business you control don’t count.
- Do you have up-to-date, relevant goals for 2013 and 2014 that you feel can get you from where it looks like 2012 will net out right now, to where you want to be in 2015? (P.S. Same holds true about “official” plans and goals).
- Do you know which customer(s) will make or break success for you in your 2015 plans?
- Do you know how you can access and marketing to those customers?
- If the channel is new, is it “under construction” now?
- Do you know what you need to offer* those customers to get their business? *Whatever you offer has to be important to them, relevant to their needs at that time, and either unique in the marketplace or superior in value to what they can get from current or new competitors who will be on the scene in 2015. Period.
- Are you personally and actively staying in play with the development initiatives that will make or break success in 2015… monitoring and removing barriers to progress, leading the charge to address whatever is needed to keep going?
Where you replied “YES” keep going and ask yourself what you can do to take momentum to the next level this week. Where you replied “NO”, it’s time to get some answers you can generate quickly and informally.
Here’s a 90 minute exercise for getting started:
Pull key members of the team together– direct reports, peers, external partners, other stakeholders, customers – and generate some answers and decisions about those questions, based on what everybody knows and thinks right now, while you’re all in the room together…no outside resources required.
To stay on track, plan your follow up with a regular “forward looking” 30 minute check-in focused on issues, opportunities and one immediate next step to address them…all decided on and assigned while you’re still in the room or on the phone or skype together…no email “exercises” in bootcamp!
Next Week (2)… The Key to Motivation: Handling Yourself!