True North: A New Years Checklist for Leaders and Business Owners

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Happy New Year! When you read this it will be January 13th or later. You almost have the first two weeks of 2022 wrapped up? How is your year going? If you’re anything like me you’ve gone from zero to sixty quick! Are you doing what you said you would do? Is your team rowing in the same direction? Or did you actually get thrown into the year without getting grounded on what really matters? Its ok. There’s still time to get grounded and lead well. This is actually the last blog in a series we’ve been going through titled Finish Well. It was five part series we started at the beginning of December. Just to review where we’ve been and where we’re going, these are the five steps to Finish well.  

  1. Your plan to cross the Finish Line, SPRINT if you must. Read it here.
  2. Your plan to Reflect. What went well? What didn’t go as well that needs to be left in 2021? Read it here.
  3. Your plan to review your Systems to make sure you sustain your results and wellness into the new year. Or – adjust them. Read it here.
  4. Your plan for Celebration and Gratitude.
  5. Your Plan to Kick Off 2022 grounded in your Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) with clear goals.

The last step in finishing well is a plan to start the next year grounded in your company Mission, Vision and Values with clear goals. If you feel you haven’t done that yet, here are few ideas to get yourself and your team rowing towards the finish line of 2022. By the way, these same principles can be applied to any business, community or even family structure.

Dirty 30 ‘True North’ All Team Call

Schedule a 30 Minute All Team Call to review with your team what is really important for 2022, your “True North” for the year. The first 10 minutes is to review the Vision, Mission and Values of the organization or your team. This is where we’re going, this is how we’re getting there, and we’ll show up grounded in these values. You might think that people remember this stuff. They don’t unless you consistently remind them. In the first 17 years of being in business, I rarely saw this done. Get people excited and looking towards the True North. If where you’re going as an organization doesn’t excite you as a leader, you may have a bigger problem on your hands. I’ve never trusted my ability to bull shit my team. Meaning, I don’t ever do anything where I have to convince them of something that I don’t believe in. Don’t expect your team to buy what you’re selling if you don’t believe it 100%. I’m not good at faking it. Maybe your company vision doesn’t excite you, then you must have a team vision that gets you out of bed in the morning. Ideally, you get excited about both your company vision and mission as well as your team’s vision and mission. If you are the business owner or CEO, you’re your vision and mission must excite you enough to inspire your team to give you their absolute best. You are the gasoline that blows this thing up. If you’re not passionate, don’t expect them to be. Sometimes leaders and owners say to me, I feel like a broker record. I’m not sure I’m going to go through this again. Do not assume that your people know this, insure that they know it. Ask them to lead their team in the same discussion.

The second ten minutes is describing the big goals you’re going to achieve and the primary leading indicators that will help you drive results in the areas of those goals. This shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re team was along for the ride during business planning. However, if there are new goals or new leading indicators, you may need more time.

Take five minutes is to hear from the group any feedback or questions. Then close the meeting sharing how and when you’ll keep the scoreboard in front of them, so you know as a team how you are on or off track. Make sure you have a scorecard that shows whether or not you’re on track within the time frames that make sense for your business, weekly – monthly or quarterly. This does not need to be anything fancy. This can be a hand drawn thermometer showing progress toward goal by time frame.

1:1 Check Ins with Each Team Member

In one of your first 1:1’s with your team, check in with them about how their work aligns to Mission – Vision – Values. Do not tell them. Ask them to tell you. This give them an opportunity to create their own insight which is way more likely to impact behavior.

Ask them about how their work aligns to the business plan. Do their primary goals directly impact the company goals, and do they have a clear understanding of the leading indicators that impact their goals? And of course, every person on your team should have clear performance goals and leading indicators.

Check in on how will they keep track of their goals and leads so they know that they’re winning? For me personally, some of the most effective scorecards are the handwritten trackers that I must physically create and fill in. When recruiting was one of my top two goals, every quarter I would number by hand a sheet of lined paper how many recruiting assessments I would need to receive, how many interview one/two/three/final interviews/accepted offers and contracts I needed to complete. As I scheduled these activities, I would write the person’s name next to the line in pencil. Once the activity was completed, I highlighted the name or wrote over the pencil in pen. For me, I wanted to have a system of scheduling the activity and a system for making sure the activity was seen and completed. As I would progress through the quarter, I had a clear visual as to the areas where I needed to be more intentional about scheduling activities. This is not sophisticated. There are a million different and more complicated ways to track a recruiting pipeline or any goal for that matter. This is what worked for me. Do what works for you and make sure your people have something that works for them. But do not give yourself an excuse that you can’t have a scorecard because you lack expensive technology.

Will versus Skill

You might be asking your team member to do something this year that you’ve never asked them to do before. Or you may be asking your team to achieve something that you’ve asked them to achieve in years past but they for whatever reason they didn’t accomplish the goal. It is absolutely necessary to make sure you understand why that didn’t happen in the past? Is it a skill or a will issue? If it’s a skill issue, have you demonstrated the skills required? Have you observed them demonstrating the skills necessary enough to confirm they have the skill required to be successful? If you aren’t the right person to do this, can you connect them with someone that can coach them on the skill building? Do you need to invest in additional training, coaching or mentoring to help them? Now is a great time to have a candid conversation about their ability and willingness to achieve the goals you’ve agreed on. Apply Situational Leadership to each task you’re asking them to own.

Every once in a while, I have come across someone that has the will and the skill to achieve the goal but lacks belief in themselves. The level in which you believe you are capable of something is exactly the level that you will achieve something. I am keenly aware of this phenomenon as it impacted me in several areas of my work throughout my early leadership career that were absolutely necessary for me to be successful. I’m sure there is very scientific titles for this phenomenon, but I just simply call it a Belief Block. What I believed about myself was blocking my ability to be successful even though I had the will and skill to achieve the goal. As I learned more about neuroscience, I now know that these are deeply rooted beliefs that need to be replaced by new neuropathways. There are probably a lot of ways to deal with Belief Block, but for me, it was simply re-writing every day in my journal what I believed about myself. I have coached other team members about this as well. It’s not a quick fix. It takes time to literally change your mind, but it’s absolutely possible to change your mind. It takes a lot of work and repetition reminding yourself of who you are and what you can do. I reminded myself daily of who I was, I wrote statements about myself in past tense, assuming the result had already taken place. “Elena is a best in class recruiter, hiring 8 advisors” as an example. Your brain will work behind the scenes to change and make these statements true. Trust me on this one.

Recognize Early Wins

The sooner you can start seeing early wins and recognizing them with your team the more fun it will be to work on your team. People need to be encouraged. I know that I perform better when someone is watching and reinforcing what I’m doing well. Find opportunities to catch your team winning and they’ll win more often. It’s never too early to thank your team for their commitment to the vision and the mission. It’s never too early to thank your people for the commitment to their goals. As the leader of the team, the business, the family or practice, you cannot achieve your goals without their efforts. Thank them, it feels so good…for both of you!   

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Published by encourageherelena

My name is Elena and I'm the Chief Encourager at Encourage Her Elena. Encouraging Women in business, at home and in community is my passion. I'm an author, speaker, and coach. After almost twenty years in Financial Services (the ultimate male dominated industry), I realized that women need to hear another voice. They need to hear their own voice and step into exactly who they were made to be.

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