Finish Well – to Start Spectacularly (part 2 of 2)
Starting next year spectacularly means first ending this year really well.
In this video I detail the 5 specific steps you need to take as a leader, to give yourself a fighting chance of starting next year with a bang.
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Read The Transcript
Hi there, Les McKeown here, founder and CEO of Predictable Success, and welcome back to the second in our short series looking at how to finish up your year.
If you haven't seen the first video in the series, it's just right below this one, and might be great idea just to pop back and take a look at that first. Back there we looked at some very mundane things that you can do in order to bring this year to a positive and useful close. And in this video I want to look at some of the more behavioral aspects of ending a year.
And I just want to remind you first of all before I go into the detail of that, that the reason we're talking about this is not because ending a year in and of itself has that much importanc,e as we'll see in a second or two - it does have importance, but much more importantly is ending this year in a way that gives you the best possible, most fertile soil to start next year with an absolute bang.
You'll recall that we've only got about 45 days. We don't have 365 days to make next year - you have about 45 days, until about Valentine's Day, before most of what's going to happen is baked in by what you've already done. So those first 45 days are what's really important and what we're leading to is getting ourselves the best possible starting point for those 45 days.
So ending well is all about enabling us to start well - How many times in the past has your year got away from you because you were so busy still sorting through stuff that really should have been sorted before?
So five things in today's video that are much more behaviourally constructed rather than actual mechanical things that you can do.
The first thing is this, you've got to manage the narrative. You've got to manage the narrative because roundabout now there's a narrative taking shape around what this year was all about for your organization. You know - "We nailed it" or "We blew it", or "The customer service team let us down this year". And it's really important that you don't just let some narrative arise in a vacuum, because what's typically going to happen is the narrative that gets implicitly accepted about this year that just passed, is whatever the highest pain point or the highest success was - and specifically whichever of those two had more reward or more consequence. So you're either going to talk about the biggest pain point or the biggest success and that's fine, but it's not helpful.
Now, I'm not suggesting what I'm talking about managing the narrative that you engage in some sort of a spin exercise. I'm not talking about PR here, I'm not talking about manipulation. I'm not talking about fake news. What I'm talking about is deciding what it is that you want to ensure we all understand was the most important lesson to take from this last year. And I want to suggest that it should be one specific thing:
The specific thing that you should encourage everybody in your organization to take away from this year is whatever it is that organizationally you learned most this year.
What did you most learn? What did you most get better at as an organization this year, irrespective of whatever else happened. So maybe this is the year you finally got social media. Maybe this is the year that you learned how to open a new campus. Maybe this is the year that you finally worked out how to do great hiring - whatever it is that you most learned as an organization this year. Make that the narrative.
Second thing that I want to suggest you do is that you 'straighten your angels'. Not straighten your angles, straighten your angels. By this I mean something very specific. It's a personal memory of mine. I remember when I was a kid and we used to put the Christmas tree up, but the last thing my father would do is he would reach up and he would straighten a specific angel that we had always placed at the top of the tree - I always remember him taking the time to straighten that angel.
Here's this thing. You have got some people (almost certainly actually going to also be your highest performers), and they have knocked themselves out of shape to get you where ever you are this year for good or for bad. They have really put in the hard yards, the long hours, and they're drained. And one of the best things you can do coming towards the end of this year is not let that (as best you can) then move into next year.
So take time to straighten your angels. Go see those people who, you know, have just put it all out on the field this year. Take some time with them, encourage them, thank them. Have an event for them, you know, take, if it's three, four, five, six people, take them out for dinner, spend time, 20 minutes one-on-one, whatever it is. Write a handwritten personal note, whatever it is that you need to do to straighten your angel. So manage the narrative, straighten the angels.
And the third thing that I want to strongly suggest you do is Cull, C, U, L. L.
You need to cull anything that started this year that just hasn't worked. I'm going to guarantee you that there's a meeting you set up or a group, or a cross functional team, or an initiative. There's something, there's probably at least two, three, four things that started this year and you know they're just not cutting it.
Now what happens with most of us is we let that continue for three, four years until we've got this inventory of stuff that's not working and it's really beginning to make our decision making and implementation processes arthritic. Don't let that happen. Cull every year. What did you start this year that's not working? Cull it.
Fourth thing: What do you want to do is restock your inventory. It's sort of like if you had a retail store right after a busy season, you got to restock your inventory. It's really important for you to realize that it doesn't matter what your organization does, whether you're for profit, not for profit, NGO, cause based, faith-based plastic extrusion manufacturer, whatever. Your key inventory isn't actually anything that's on the shelves. It's the people who work with and for you, and as a group you're going to have run down some inventory.
Maybe people have lost the ability to have fun this year. Maybe just an edge has come off their productivity. Maybe their engagement has diluted somewhat this year. Take a look at your inventory, your people, and decide what you need to restock in. Do you need to have some sort of a social event that will enable you to sit with your folks and re energize them? Do you need to make some changes to working hours for awhile next year just to let people refocus? Do you need to bring them new tools to help them get their productivity level up?
So: Manage the Narrative, Straighten Your Angels, Cull, Restock Your Inventory and finally, and most importantly of all of these - -and the one step that's going to be the move, the pivot from this year to next year, and that is to Center Yourself. And what do I mean by that? I mean you've got to be prepared to pivot from this year to next year.
There is a saying, which I have somewhat mangeled, that originally came from my good friend Marshall Goldsmith. He wrote a book, great book called 'What got you Here Won't get you There'. And in my observation of growth leaders, the most important version of that is "What got Me Here, won't get Us There". I'll say that again "What got Me Here, won't get Us There". In other words, at the end of the year, it's essential for you to take stock as to how you've developed as a leader in the year past and think about what's required of you in the year ahead. And there's a simple way to do that. It sounds very complex and inward-looking and, you know, a lot of, uh, woo-woo stuff - but it can be done very simply.
I want you to take a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle. And in the left side I want you to write out the five or six key defining characteristics of you as a leader on January 1st at the start of this year that's now ending. What are the four or five key characteristics or key words you would use to describe yourself as a leader back on January 1st. On the right side, write down the four or five characteristics that you would use to describe you as a leader right now. I want to suggest something to you. If there is absolutely been no change during the course of this year, then that means you're probably not leading as effectively as you can and should be and that your leadership will come under stress and strain next year - because the demands of leadership change as our organizations grow.
So having looked at that and seeing how you've changed over the year, I want you then to look at your current characteristics. Those four or five things that would define you as a leader right now. I want you to ask yourself which one of these do I most need to double down on for next year. That's the first thing. The second thing I want you to ask yourself is which of these is actually going to be problematic for our people next year. And the third thing I want you to ask - and this is the hardest one to answer - as you look at that, I want you to think what's missing on this list? What is there about me as a leader that isn't there, that I need to develop.
So I hope that's been helpful for you. Don't forget our five things. First of all, Managing the Narrative. Secondly, Straighten Your Angels. Three, Cull. Four: Restock Inventory, and five: Center Yourself.
Now, as I've said all through both these videos, what this is all about is setting the stage for next year. As I have said a number of times, the key reason I'm teaching how to close out this year so well, is in order to give you the best possible runway for those vital 45 days that start next year. You need to have 80% of what you want to achieve next year baked in by Valentine's day, February 14th.
So I want you to think about whether or not you would be interested in a course that I'm going to personally facilitate, which I'm calling the "45-Day Sprint to Success".
Now I realize I haven't given you many details about that, but if you would like the details of it's something that in general you'd be interested in, then just put your email address right below the video here and confirm your interest. We'll get those details to you, and then I hope to see you on the 45-Day "Sprint to Success"!