The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Overcoming the Summer Hangover
It’s October, are you back in the groove after the long summer? Or do you still have a summer hangover? During the summer months many businesses slow down a little, or a lot, so it’s easy to find oneself stuck in slow-mode throughout September. Of course, if summer in your business is busy then you may be taking a breather after the busy season. In either case fall is a time for regeneration, a time to take stock and also come up with new ideas for your business. However, before you can embark on those new ventures, you will need to motivate yourself to deal with the challenges you currently face. A fresh start, or an opportunity to press reset, has been proved to aid motivation, so now might be the perfect time to launch into the final quarter of the year with gusto.
There are few businesses today that don’t have a mountain to climb as we move into the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as the poet Keats so eloquently described it. Currently, the challenges we face are made worse by the many unknown factors affecting our businesses. The Delta variant is causing a fourth COVID-19 wave across Canada, we’ve recently had a general election, there seems to be more polarizing issues plaguing our society than ever before, and trust is at an all-time low across the board – uncertainty seems to be the only certainty.
It may be a good idea to take a step back and review where you and your business stands amid what can sometimes feel like utter chaos. What did you achieve over the summer months? How has your business environment changed over the past four months? Is your business in a better or worse situation? Why is that? How have the tasks you carried out over the last several months helped or hindered the outcomes you had hoped for?
List the major challenges you are facing right now and prioritize them. If a challenge feels insurmountable, break it down into bite-size pieces that you feel confident you can tackle. Motivation is fickle, you are far more likely to achieve something if it is not only important but you also think it is achievable.
A great way to move forward is to create a mission for yourself and your team. Motivation and satisfaction, come from moving toward a goal, rather than simply fighting fires. The bigger picture is your friend. Does running your business feel like a vocation or a job? If it’s the latter, then it’s even more important that you take a long look at your life and your business, and decide whether you are heading in a positive direction. If not, you need to question what you are going to do about the situation.
Rise to the challenges you face. It’s only when we are working to capacity and stretching ourselves do we feel a true sense of achievement. The time between summer and the end of the year can be the most productive period of the year – that is, if you face it head-on and don’t let a summer hangover sap your will-power.
In the following article, Ingrid Vaughan, CEO of My Smart HR Inc. and founder of the Smart Leadership Academy talks about Mindful Leadership.
Leaders were once respected for being sharp, decisive, competitive, even ruthless in the pursuit of their business goals. They commanded and controlled their workforces and treated employees as a means to their end. They were self-reliant risk-takers who stopped at nothing to pursue their goals and abhorred showing weakness or vulnerability.
Today, people want leaders who are honest, vulnerable, and accountable for their actions. They want to know their leaders care about them as people and treat them as equals working toward the same goals. In today’s tough labour market, a mindset shift is necessary to recruit and keep great talent.
4 Essential Leadership Qualities
Credibility – employees want to work for transparent leaders who demonstrate integrity. They want to see authenticity and realness. They are motivated by leaders who admit they’re not perfect. A credible leader also extends trust and is trustworthy.
Inclusivity – respected leaders “walk the floor” and are in tune with what employees have to say about business success. They work side-by-side with the team and let employees know what’s going on and how they are contributing to success. They don’t whitewash problems but value and ask for everyone’s feedback.
Agility – leadership agility means not holding anything too tightly, navigating change well, and being able to turn on a dime when circumstances require it. It also requires a willingness to re-invent as business and customer demands change over time. If leaders are credible and inclusive, their teams will also learn to be resilient and agile.
Sustainability – burned-out leaders don’t lead well. Employees who watch a leader crumble find themselves afraid of what will happen if their leaders implode. Effective leaders are intentional about self-care habits. They prioritize family, do things they love outside of work, take care of themselves physically and emotionally, engage in healthy social activities, and often have a deep faith or spiritual connection that sustains and guides them.
Mindfulness at Work
Here are four questions that can help lead you to becoming more mindful in developing those characteristics and growing your leadership effectiveness.
- How credible are you? Do you do what you say you will do? Do you regularly extend trust to your team members and behave in a way that leads others to trust you? Is your character the same in all aspects of your life? Are you willing to let your team see that you also sometimes struggle and make mistakes? Are you believable and approachable?
- How inclusive are you? Do you routinely ask your team for their feedback on how things are going for them and in the business? Do you keep them apprised of important aspects of business growth or challenges? Do you take time to get to know your team members personally – do they feel you care about them? Do you spend time with your employees so you know where they are struggling at work and where they are seeing success? Do you verbally value their feedback and ideas?
- How agile are you? Are you open to change and effectively keep your team prepared for changes that may come? Do you easily let go of old ways of doing things and welcome new ideas? Do you hold things loosely so you can adapt quickly? Do you help your team practice adapting to change?
- Are you intentionally practicing sustainable habits? Are you managing your workload so that it’s balanced with family and personal time? Do you spend time doing things you love to do and cultivate interests outside of work? Do you practice meditation, mindfulness, prayer, or other soul-sustaining habits? Do you make time for friends and social activities? Are you aware of what drains your energy and what gives you joy, and are you making sure there are more energy gains than drains?
Mindful leadership doesn’t just happen. It requires planning, intention, commitment and time. It also means sometimes doing things that feel counter-intuitive. The result is essential in running a successful, lasting business today.
Coach's Corner - Regular Check-Ups
“Knowing when and how to change course is important to success. Self-doubt is a lighthouse that will keep you from running aground. Don't become shipwrecked on the rocks of time. Be willing to rethink your decisions and change course.” ― Harley King
Sometimes, when we have a long-time plan or goal we become so invested that we tend to focus on it to the point where we give little thought to veering away from it or questioning its continued relevance. We just “stick to our guns” and march forward.
Adam Grant in his book, Think Again, suggests that we might need to do a check-up once or twice a year to see if our plan or goal is still valid and realistic. It may require a change in direction, or possibly abandoning altogether in light of new knowledge and context. He argues that we are sometimes trapped by the status quo, or by the fact that we have made a heavy investment in terms of time and money.
“There's a fine line between heroic persistence and foolish stubbornness. Sometimes the best kind of grit is gritting our teeth and turning around” ― Adam Grant.
What are some ways we can review or check-up on the plan?
- Review the premise and information used in making the decision to create the goal or plan.
- Be open, honest and have courage to change course to find a better alternative.
- Remember that dwelling on past time and energy costs will not necessarily ensure future success. Don’t let the past hold you back.
- Be open to information that doesn’t necessarily support your plan. Consider opposing views and thoughts.
- Be self-critical, so you don’t fall prey to overestimating the truth and reality of your forecasts.
In the same way we have regular medical check-ups to ensure we are healthy, regular check-ups to review our goals and plans are just as important to the health of our organization, and our personal or professional lives.
“Even if you regret, it will not reverse what happened. Rethink, relearn and replan, so you will not repeat what happened.” ― Gift Gugu Mona
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching