Can you believe it? The year’s flown by and it’s December already!

  • The shops have been playing Christmas Carols for weeks
  • You’re already on the ‘end of year’ functions merry go round
  • There are gifts to buy, a holiday to organise and seemingly no way to keep all the family happy on Christmas Day.

And then there’s work…

The predictable year end busyness flurry has arrived. And for anyone who is in a leadership role, this often means there's even more to do.

Your diary is black with meetings and that 24 December deadline has everyone under the pump.

Worse still, it’s been a really big year. Everyone is tired and hanging out for a well-earned break.

But before you dive into an exhausted end-of-year funk, take a moment to stop, breathe and change tack.

As a leader, you don't need to go down the Burnout Track this year!

How would it be if the next few weeks could be the most successful and fulfilling of the whole year!

Imagine the bliss of heading home on Christmas Eve, knowing you’ve pulled off the impossible.

You’ve sealed the deal; finally resolved a complex issue; completed that project; put the wheels in motion for an exciting new venture or signed up a brilliant new hire.

Whatever it is you need to get done, here’s how to enjoy a fist pumping, high fiving, super satisfying year end:

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How to End Your Year of Leadership on a
Fabulous High!

1. Choose Your Focus, Set Your Priorities

Set goals based on what’s possible, realistic and do-able. Focus only on what matters most, that can be completed.

Don’t kid yourself that the ‘nice to do’ actions will get done. Put them down, defer them or let them go.

Award yourself bonus points for:

  • Choosing quick wins that will have a significant, positive, immediate payback
  • Finalising actions that have dragged on all year
  • Resolving the sticky problems everyone else has avoided!

The last two are easy to identify – these are the items with multiple ‘Carried Forwards' in meeting minutes.

2. Create a Simple, Productive, Action Plan

No bells and whistles!

Break your priorities down into do-able actions with no more than 3 steps to completion. Strip tasks down to the bare essentials to get the job done well.

Involve your team in a “Let’s Get This Done” planning session. They will know how to fast track actions and side-step blockers.

Avoid stress induced overwhelm by shelving unrealistic expectations and unnecessary demands. This is about exerting just enough constructive, gentle pressure to create focus and momentum.

3. Schedule Action Time and Assign Accountability

It’s easy to make a big long list of what needs to be done. But if an action doesn’t have an assigned owner, dedicated time and a completion date, it won’t happen!

Leadership success comes from helping your team clear their diaries, remove unnecessary distractions and create time to work on agreed actions.

Clear your calendar of any unnecessary meetings and tasks and create blocks of time to get your stuff done! This includes regular, short check-in meetings to see how you can help your team.

This is a great time to roll your sleeves up and pitch in, without micro-managing.

4. Mix Things Up

Routine and structure are important for conserving energy and discipline. But at this end of the year they can also create energy sapping predictability and boredom.

To keep motivation and energy high, introduce circuit breakers and fun. Work in small, high focus blocks, taking a break every 25 minutes. Use regular breaks  to get up, exercise and keep the blood moving.

Walking and stand-up meetings will help keep talk time short, sweet and focused on outcomes.

5. Reflect, Celebrate and Learn

Dedicate your last team meeting to reflecting on the year that was. Create a safe environment for everyone to share and explore:

  • Highlights – what worked; what it resulted in and why it worked
  • Disappointments – what happened; how it happened and what the impact was
  • Biggest Lessons – based on the above, what’s the greatest insight gained and how this will be used to achieve  success next year.

6. Acknowledge Achievement

As a leader, your success comes from the efforts of others. Take time to acknowledge specific individual and team achievements.

Write a year-end blog, newsletter or send out a group email. Broadcast what you’re most proud of by sharing insights and success stories. Everyone loves to hear about wins achieved against the odds.

This creates conscious awareness and recognition amongst your colleagues who may not be fully aware of your team’s skills and talent.

It’s also a genuine way to publicly acknowledge partners and collaborators.

7. Be Generous with Appreciation

Make a list of everyone who has helped you this year and take time to personally thank each of them.

Giving the gift of appreciation releases endorphins which trigger positive feelings for you and the recipient.

Genuine and specific appreciation strengthens your relationships and fuels motivation to keep working with you next year.

8. Take Time to Connect

This is the best time of year to touch base informally with those you’ve worked with or know you’ll be working with more next year.

Festive goodwill creates a more relaxed, easier discussion where people are more receptive to new ideas. Hold catch ups offsite over coffee, lunch or evening drinks.

Explore future plans with customers, suppliers, partners, prospective employers (if you’re considering a job change and potential new hires.

9. Get a Head Start on Next Year

What will be different and better this time next year?

Set career and work goals for the year ahead. Most people wait until the new year to turn their minds to what’s ahead. Taking time to choose your key focus areas in advance will create clear direction and put you in control.

A half-day Strategic planning session with your team will help capture lessons learnt and set the groundwork to learn from failures and build on successes, while they're still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Creating a New Year Game Plan helps you neatly side-step the all too familiar post festive season slump. It will also protect your goals from New Year’s Resolutions which invariably fall victim to self-sabotage.

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On that last day at work, as you pick up your bag and Kris Kringle gift and head out the door towards the lift, take a moment to pause...

  • Be proud of what you and your team have achieved
  • Forgive yourself and others for any mistakes that have been made
  • Know you’ve done the very best you could
  • Feel smug for already being prepared for next year
  • Breathe deeply, smile and give yourself a satisfying, high five, fist pump!

If you’re working through the festive season – enjoy the peace and slower pace.

If you’re taking time off – enjoy a well-deserved, relaxing and happy break.

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron
About Caroline

Caroline Cameron is an award winning, master certified executive, career and business team coach, workshop facilitator and speaker. Caroline is on a mission to help mid-career professionals and evolving organisations harness the power of change to achieve success in business, work and life.

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