Fourth quarter is make it or break it time for people in businesses who depend on the holiday season sales for a disproportionate percentage of annual performance. The intensity and pressure escalates and then it’s Christmas. The intensity only stops for a day or two for some. For adult beverage producers, wholesalers, and most retailers, the days between Christmas and New Years are no less intense and we appreciate you for keeping us in holiday beverages.
Then it’s December 31, the symbolic end. Goals were accomplished or not. The history book closes on another year with family and friends enjoying good food, wine, and the page turns to a new chapter with hope and optimism.
“Leave it,” is the command that dog owners teach and when learned it can keep the dog from rolling in the roadkill possum carcass, chasing a squirrel, chewing the leather sofa, and bothering guests. What does your year-end look in the mirror suggest? Just in case you draw a blank here are some suggestions for leaders.
Just stop. Leave these practices behind in 2017.
1. Letting fear guide decisions.
Fear sells. Marketing, whether pharmaceuticals, political rhetoric, security systems/protections or other products/services exponentially magnifies something bad that is unlikely to occur to sell a product that may or may not prevent something bad from happening. Fear of failure, fear of being the target of a boss who instills fear, fear of speaking up in opposition to the dominant direction of the team are common work-related examples. Just stop it and do what you know is right. “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda
2. Interactions with people who suck energy and enthusiasm.
In the movie Wayne’s World, Garth’s hair is stuck in a vacuum cleaner hose and he says “It’s sucking my will to live.” Some people are like this. Leave those folks in 2017. If there is some family or political reason that is not possible, consider the cost/benefit of doing it anyway. Still not possible? Minimize contact. Compartmentalize the essential interactions. Stop taking the bait.
3. Allowing a team member to wear a Scarlet Letter.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne had a child as a result of an affair. She is branded Adultress and required to wear a Scarlet Letter “A” and be shunned by her Puritan Community for the rest of her life. While not so blatant in most businesses, there is a tendency to make it hard for a team member to live down a reputation earned by a negative behavior or other failing. If there is a team member that is carrying an invisible but negative scarlet letter based on old history, leave it behind in 2017. Step-up, show some leadership. Have a discussion and help the person move beyond old mistakes. (Just to be clear, I am not talking about excusing illegal, unethical abuses of power, sexual or otherwise).
4. Negative comments and lazy generalizations about what’s lacking in a generation of people.
The most effective leaders know that each person is an individual. Effective leadership requires people to be known and treated as individuals. One size doesn’t fit all and equal treatment of unequals is unjust.
The end of one year and beginning of another may just be numbers. Yet, I like the symbolic nature of starting over. Thirty first day goes back to the first. Twelfth month goes back to first month. The year, however, goes forward. New Year’s resolutions seldom last beyond January of the new year. Unfamiliar faces at the gym the first week of January are generally gone by the end of the month and we get the machines, weights, and parking spaces back. The routine returns and in that routine, someone new steps-up to become a leader and we extend a hand to mentor the transition. Leaders continuously live the accountability to build more leaders.
Images courtesy of Pixabay.com and Pintrest.