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2021: Your Year in Review
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2021: Your Year in Review




BIG IDEA: 

The end of the year is a natural time to pause and reflect on your progress as a leader.

I’ve always encouraged leaders to regularly take time out of their schedules to reflect on their progress. This kind of reflection is invaluable for leaders. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind. But when you don’t take time to reflect, you often allow yourself to get pulled further and further off course—by outside pressure to help others with their top priorities, by the time crunch of deadlines, by the many large and small personnel issues that inevitably crop up on any team.

Only by stepping outside your normal routine can you find the perspective that allows you to refocus on your own top priorities as a leader. The end of the year is a perfect time to check your progress towards crucial long-term goals like increasing team accountability, building relationships with colleagues, and career planning for yourself and your direct reports.

WHY IT MATTERS: 

This year, finding time to assess your progress is more important than ever.

Many leaders have spent the past two years in a state of almost non-stop crisis. Ever since the pandemic began to close offices, leaders have been scrambling to make plans on the fly, adjust the way they do their work, and make progress towards their goals under extremely challenging circumstances. Now we’re nearing the end of our second pandemic year—and facing the rise of a new variant that is already disrupting many companies’ plans to return to in-person work.

When you’re constantly putting out fires, it can feel impossible to block out time for reflection on your calendar. But it’s actually all the more crucial to take that time under circumstances like these. Now is the perfect time to step back and ask yourself tough questions like: Have I risen to the challenge of this crisis? Have I used this time to strengthen my relationships with colleagues, or have I allowed those bonds to fray?

Times of crisis test us as leaders. But many organizations also find that they can pull together in a crisis in a way that they can’t or don’t under normal circumstances. The pandemic has been a unique challenge because it’s been both a crisis and a new normal. How has your team responded? How has your organization responded?

THE IMPACT: 

Use this time to recommit to your top priorities.

Certainly, leading through the past two years of constant upheaval and stress has been an enormous challenge. But no one ever said leadership was easy. Taking on a leadership role is an enormous responsibility. You are accountable to the people you lead, to your organization, and to your community. You must not allow the daily pressures of your role to overwhelm you.

The end of the year is a natural time to assess your progress, set goals for the coming year, and recommit to working towards your top priorities as a leader. When thinking about your top priorities, push yourself to think beyond individual projects or deadlines. Think about the impact that you want to have as a leader. Think about your organization’s strategic goals, and how your team needs to contribute. Think about your direct reports and the kind of coaching and support they need to be at their best.

WHAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO: 

How would you sum up your year in leadership?

Like 2020, 2021 has been a strange and challenging year for most of us. I think that for many leaders, 2020 was all about disruption. Routines were upended and systems had to be remade on the fly.

As I’ve talked to leaders in 2021, I’ve noticed a few major themes. This has been a year of adjusting to remote and hybrid work—and perhaps more importantly, adjusting to the idea that hybrid work may be here to stay. It’s been a year of uncertainty in many ways, from the continued ups and downs of the news around the pandemic to more concrete issues like uncertainty and upheaval in the supply chain.

It’s also been a year of reflection for many people. Experts have been talking for months about the ‘Great Resignation’ that’s pushing many people to reevaluate the way work fits into their lives. You may be seeing some of this reevaluation happening with your direct reports. You may be doing this kind of reevaluation yourself. The (relatively) quiet weeks at the end of the year are a great time for this kind of reflection.

Start with a simple question: If you had to sum up your year in leadership in one word, what would that one word be?

Here are some more questions you can use to reflect on your year as a leader:

  1. Have you been an accountable leader in 2021?
  2. In what specific ways did you step up to do the hard work of leadership?
  3. What were some critical leadership decisions that you made? What was the impact of those decisions on your team and organization?
  4. Did you make your team stronger this year?
  5. Have you built effective relationships with peers across the organization?
  6. Through this time of crisis and challenge, have you demonstrated resilience and resolve? Has your team demonstrated resilience and resolve?
  7. What are the top 3 things you want to focus on in your leadership role in 2022?

What one word sums up your year in leadership? 

Gut Check for Leaders

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