Template For Making A 2013 Plan

Last week we talked about the importance of reflection. It is a great tool for getting in tune with what you need to do in the future. However, inevitably we must move our focus forwards and leave the past behind us in order to be successful. It is time to start the planning stage and the key to great planning is in the details. Getting these details right can be a task, so I created a template (inspired from The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership) to help guide you.

I have found that the first step is to get your bearings. Try and establish the fundamentals of your plan. Here is how the template breaks down for this portion:

– What do you want in 2013?
– If _________ is what you want, then what are your priorities?
– If _________ are your priorities, what will you do?

Now that you have figured out the general direction behind your plan then it is time to start developing the different components necessary to get to your destination:

– Which of your strengths can you leverage?
– What will keep you motivated?
– How can you get the most from your time?
– Who do you need/want to support you?
– What do you need to learn?
– What mindset is needed?
– Where can you use a both/and approach instead of either/or?

Each of these aspects can determine the success or failure of your plan, so it is important to spend the appropriate amount of time considering them.

Going into any situation, it is always best to have a plan. It affords us the time to consider different possibilities and weigh the options for overcoming them. A good plan should be well thought out, and this template will help you systematically address some of the more important considerations. As 2013 is quickly approaching, it is time to get started. Have a Happy New Year.

Mindful Leaders

 

Leaders are often faced with decisions that can test their moral fortitude. The best leaders find ways to keep their moral compass intact, doing what is not only best for them but best for the company and the people who work for them. Stress can build up and cause bad decisions, causing even great leaders to lose focus on what is important and gauge their success solely on monetary gains. Overcoming this requires mindfulness.

There is more to being a good leader than simply creating revenue. Being mindful of how your actions affect others and yourself is pivotal. In his article Mindfulness Helps You Become A Better Leader, businessman and Harvard professor Bill George writes, “As you take on greater leadership responsibilities, the key is to stay grounded and authentic, face new challenges with humility, and balance professional success with more important but less easily quantified measures of personal success.” The higher up the ladder, the more difficult this can be. Thus, starting out with a foundation of best practices can be very helpful.

As a leader, George found meditation as a way to help him stay on the right track. Meditation relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and allows time to regain focus. George writes that keeping emotions in check can help reduce distractions and bad decisions. Being able to both “observe and participate in each moment, while recognizing the implications of your actions for the longer term,” can promote good decision making.

Being a mindful leader requires commitment and an understanding of the big picture. Building emotional intelligence with tools like meditation can help prevent rash decisions. Leaders are responsible for far more than themselves. Therefore, as a leader, it is important to keep not only self-interests in mind. Finding balance while keeping that “edge” that creates success is a line we all walk. Some fail, but mindful leaders find ways to succeed.

Resources
George, Bill. “Mindfulness Helps You Become a Better Leader.” Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Publishing, 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

Change Through Agility

 

In the fast-paced complex business world we operate, the adage of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” rarely applies, for leaders must now be more proactive than the old saying implies. However, finding the appropriate blend of adopting new practices and keeping old ones can be a delicate tapdance.

As leaders, our ability to be agile is irreplaceable. We are ultimately the ones making the decisions and if those decisions wind up being costly, we are responsible for correcting the ship. Even though it may be our responsibility, we can employ the help of our workforce by fostering an agile work environment.

With the high rate at which change is thrown at businesses, it is no longer enough for a few top-level leaders to posses the agility trait; leaders need to build agile teams, organizations and even customers. Leaders must create an environment in which adaptability is valued. Working to accommodate change has to be swift, or our competition will bury us. If implementing a new solution or strategy is met by enormous pushback–from our employees, our partners or our customers–our businesses will sacrifice valuable time and energy as leaders struggle to convince everyone involved that the action is appropriate.

To structure an agile environment, we must attach value on individuals being able to step outside of their comfort zones. Then, when we make a decision to implement a new solution to accommodate change, our teams are positioned to be less reluctant when asked to divert from how they’ve operated in the past.

We can encourage our teams to be more adaptable by expressing that we value continuous learning. By doing so, we are encouraging our teams to keep up-to-date on new business methodologies and better develop their core competencies. Without this focus on learning, we allow our teams to become comfortable in their norms and stringent when asked to step outside of them.

It’s our responsibility to promote agility. After all, because the business landscape is always changing, the teams and organizations that are better positioned to adapt to that change have an extreme competitive advantage. Consequently, the organizations that allow their teams to become comfortable in “the way it’s always been done” will remain flat-footed as the competition speeds by in this high-paced, constantly changing business environment.