As we run screaming into the end of the year 2021 (where has this one gone?), it’s always a good time to reflect, regroup, and renew our thinking for the year that is just around the corner. The best bosses I have known use this time to make reflections.
There are those among us that do very little reflective work. What I mean is, they seldom stop to look at their own impact and effectiveness. Instead, they meander through life doing what they want to do, choosing what they choose, and paying very little attention to the consequences.
In my mind, I am fortunate to never work with that kind of client. Why? First, because they never call for coaching. Remember, they are NOT reflective. More importantly, they wouldn’t be a good coaching client. I’d likely get blamed for producing no results. So to that end, I am happy they never call.
The Good Guys
However, it is my good fortune to work with clients who want to make a difference. They want to become better bosses. These heroes are willing to stop and ask the tough questions like:
How did I do as a leader?
What could be better?
Which things worked well, what didn’t?
What should I do more of?
And what should I STOP doing?
It is by allowing these reflections that one can achieve growth. Change is inevitable. So why not be intentional with the changes? Build a plan for mastering your skills as a leader. You can’t do it all in one giant leap forward.
Rather, you have to decide on specific behaviors or skills you want to use to become the leader you want to be. Decide on a few key things that can make the most difference right now. Then get help understanding the details about what you can change.
It’s in the Bag
When asked about leadership, I like the analogy of the golfer. In the bag is a set of clubs, 14 by regulation. Each club is designed for a specific purpose like hitting long or hitting short with finesse. Good golfers know how to use each club with varying degrees. The golfer will ‘bend’ or ‘shape’ shots depending on the course in front of them. Choosing the right club and the right swing in the moment is what differentiates good golfers from great golfers. Or in my case, pretty mediocre weekend golfers.
Building a leadership skill set is like the golfer. You can add tools to your leadership bag. But one size does not fit all. You have to practice to learn how to shape the moment with the tool you’ve chosen.
As an example, communication can be one of those leadership tools. Your communication can be very direct if you must make some form of announcement to the group. On the other hand, if you are coaching an employee, your communication may be very warm and empathetic.
Other examples of leadership tools (or clubs – no not lethal weapons) used by the best bosses are delegating, accountability, decision making, motivation, listening, speaking, planning, giving feedback, nurturing, coaching, character, integrity, etc.
The list can be long. You need to decide the elements and attributes that you want to define your leadership style and substance. The longer the list, the more work you will do to improve your skill at applying these behaviors in the moment.
This is why you simply cannot work to develop all of the skills in one big push. You have to work with them throughout your career. In my experience, you will have whole seasons of work where certain skills will dominate the situation. A select few of your leadership skills will be needed to win the day. You won’t ignore or forget your other leadership skills, you just won’t call on them as often.
The calendar year-end is always a convenient time to remember the need to look back, evaluate, and make new plans.
I’m not talking about funky new year resolutions. Instead, I mean valuable reviews of what has happened before and a focus on what can lie ahead.
The best bosses include just such a look at their own ability to lead. Having the self-discipline to sit down and prepare a year-end review is a great start to making next year your best year ever for the best boss ever, YOU!
Let me also wish Happy Holidays to all my friends and colleagues who do not observe Christmas time celebrations. Blessings to you and your families!