The Finishing Line. Caution: Stay the Course!
After a well-deserved break, we're on the threshold of the last quarter of the year ... Q4 ... Three months - actually two and a half if you count the end-of-year vacation period - to cross the finishing line in pole position.
It's a time of excitement, passion and often stress. Good leadership resolutions are sometimes sacrificed on the altar of (missing) results and performance. The most strategic visions fade before the operational urgencies of the finishing line. On a personal note, I still have a dozen or so trips to make between now and December before I can sit back and reflect on the year ahead. This is not the time to step back and engage in non-urgent interactions.
And yet, it's essential to stay the course when it comes to leadership. Here's a checklist to keep in mind:
1 - Let's not forget to reiterate the vision and mission that inspire our strategies and must guide our actions. This cannot be stressed enough. And it's particularly appropriate in this period of execution.
2- Let's not fail in our role as team motivators. Achieving objectives is an obligation, but it must also remain a pleasure, a game. Let's preserve the 'fun' dimension of our efforts and share it with others! Let's keep an eye on our employees' level of commitment and stress.
3- Let's remember that our teams' main drivers are emotional ... joy, pride, shame, anger, fear ... Under the pressure of the finishing line, emotions are exacerbated. We need to know how to control our own, and recognize those of our colleagues. Let's take the time to coach, to listen, to cultivate patience in this climate of urgency.
4 - Remain authentic. Nothing is more demotivating than a leader who fakes enthusiasm or optimism when the going gets tough. Or a leader who brags. We're much more credible and engaging when we acknowledge difficult realities out loud, without lapsing into inappropriate pessimism. Let's communicate clearly, sincerely, with commitment and honesty.
5 - As the year draws to a close, courage is more important than ever. Let's have the courage to stay the course and communicate with empathy but firmness when necessary. Let's also have the courage to admit our mistakes, and give our teams sincere feedback, even if it's negative, but let's keep in mind the ultimate goal of our efforts.
In this frantic race, let's keep the balance between our own energy, our own needs, our own personality (I), team motivation (WE) and our focus on strategic objectives, results and vision (IT)!
Enjoy the race!