With the end of the financial year around the corner, one’s mind naturally turns to updating strategies or business plans, budgets and forecasts, and end-of-financial-year planning in the run up to the following year’s success. A fair bit goes into mulling over and detailing on paper these forward-thinking aspects of your business, but may overshadow the one critically important factor that can ultimately make or break your business — your ability to lead your team to act on these plans. Whether your team comprises a total of 2 (yourself included) or 200 (under the more direct management of senior level executives that report to you), the ability to set direction, inspire to action, motivate through challenges and celebrate the wins is really the most important determinant of your success. Yet many leaders, having obtained a leadership position, promptly drop the proverbial ball on their own professional and personal development and look to external factors that influence performance. A saying goes, “If it is to be, it’s up to me” (William H. Johnsen). In the current business environment of rapidly changing technologies, multi-generational workforces, highly flexible workplaces and increasing uncertainty and stress, when was the last time you invested in improving your skillset and thinking to not only meet these challenges but make the most of emerging opportunities? Leadership today requires agility on many fronts. Time and space to step outside of day-to-day management and take on different perspectives as issues arise are becoming imperative. Let’s look at your leadership as you would look at your budget — determining how much is available and deciding where it will go amongst competing priorities.
- Attention – Thinking of your leadership, where do you focus most of your attention? Where your attention goes, energy flows. Is it time to budget for your attention to focus on other aspects of the business? How will you make this shift?
- Empowerment – Are your people doing their job as efficiently and effectively as possible or are you doing too much ‘doing’ work? Effective leadership includes the ability to remove roadblocks to let others get on with the job. Do you need to budget for more delegation? And are you delegating in a way that will empower those you lead?
- Perspective – When you’re in the thick of it, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees and being too close to the issue may colour your perspective. How are you opening yourself to new perspectives? Are you speaking with people from a variety of industries? Or is it the same old cronies that reinforce your existing mindset? Ideas, inspiration and innovation are born out of seeing known situations in fresh light. How can you budget to shine more light on challenges you face?
- Best practice – Do you consistently hone your existing skills and work to develop new skills to keep sharp? Or does this rusty blade need a keen new edge? In dynamic environments, the more you develop yourself, the greater your potential to identify and act on opportunities as they arise. How can you budget to build on your professional toolkit?
As you look to the year ahead, budget for your leadership and you can bank on the results that will flow from better leadership.