Relaxed Strategizing


Two types of leaders are wrapping up this year. Some leaders are finishing 2016 in roughly the same place they started. They have been busy all through the year, but they have basically done things throughout 2016 much like in previous years. Leading and behaving the way they always have has led to getting roughly the same results.
For other leaders, 2016 has been a different kind of year. Whether they’ve had success or setbacks, these leaders have been doing things differently. And because they have been leading in different ways, they are starting to see different results. The end of the year doesn’t feel the same as the beginning.
How about you? How have you changed as a leader over the past year?
Henry Ford said:

If you always do what you’ve always done,
you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

How do you use the week between Christmas and New Year’s? It has always been a week I look forward to. Sometimes I leave it completely unstructured, spending time with family, doing whatever I feel like on a given day, or doing nothing at all! I wrote about the benefits of this approach back in August.
Other times, like this year, I decide to do some planning. But I will do it in a fairly relaxed way. My friend, Ron Farmer, referred to this the other day as “Relaxed Strategizing.” I’ll noodle on the past, present and future. Think about it, but not get stressed over it. Concentrate on it, then push away and do something else. It won’t feel like work, but at the end of the week, by being intentional, I will walk away with lessons learned from the past and a game plan for the future.
A year ago, I suggested you could do a SWOT analysis of yourself as a leader. You can do that again – and compare it to last year. Or here’s something a little different.
Try these steps, completing them in one sitting, or spreading them out over several days.
Step One: Reflect back on the past year. Review your calendar, monthly reports, or any other references you have that remind you of all that happened in 2016. What were the highlights? What were the hard things? Where were you challenged? Where did you excel? Look at all aspects of your life – the “work” areas that were impacted by your leadership, as well as the things outside of work. Do an inventory and write these things down.
Step Two: Stop-Start-Continue. This is another strategy tool like SWOT that can be used in an organization as well as for you personally. Annotate each item from your inventory in Step One with the words Stop, Start or Continue.

  • Stop = activities that you are done with and would not like to repeat.
  • Start = new things, things that have been missing, or that happened by surprise but you would like to make them happen again.
  • Continue = actions or activities that were good, that represent progress, that are life-giving or good for you that you want more of.

Step Three: Refine. Think about what you have recorded in Steps One and Two. Talk them over with someone else. Look for patterns. Add. Subtract. Fine-tune.
Step Four: Game-plan. Formulate a plan for change or growth in yourself as leader. Less can be more in this area. Simplify to increase the chances you’ll actually do it and stick with it. Better to focus on one thing that will really move the needle than a list of 20 things that feel overwhelming and never get attention.
I have three things I am focused on in the coming year:

  1. Get my book published.
  2. Expand my leadership work with clients by bringing in additional coaches.
  3. Train and develop other coaches in the methods I have found to be successful in helping leaders grow.

These feel ambitious and a little overwhelming. They will stretch me and I will have to change how I do things in order to accomplish them. But one way or another, I’ll do my best and things will be different at the end of 2017 than they were at the beginning.
I wish the same for you.