Leadership: If I waved a magic wand what would you want to change in the New Year?
We all know that New Year’s resolutions are probably more likely to fail than to succeed but I think that even the failures teach us something. Apart from anything else they teach us about what it is that we want to change. Yes it might take 4 successive years of failing to change but if you change on the 5th year and never look back surely it is worth it!
My brother-in-law, for example, pledged to lose weight for at least 3 consecutive years and after initial positive starts he soon went back to his old ways. However, in 2011 he lost five stone and is planning on running a marathon, regularly clocking up 30-40 miles a week running. His life has completely changed and he is loving it and showing no signs of stopping.
In planning for an event in February for the Barclay’s Leadership Programme alumni I started thinking about all of the things that we know we need to do or really want to change and never take the time, or space, to action. A recent report presented by the Leadership 20:20 Commission, hosted by NCVO, at a Civil Society APPG reception in the House of Commons called on the sector to ensure that we have sustainable and resilient leadership and that we are supporting emerging leaders. Is this something that you could pledge to focus on in the coming year?
Whether you lead an organisation or a team, you need the space to think about your leadership however, trying to deal with all of the challenges that leaders have, all of the competing priorities and time drains can make this space seem like a luxury. But remember, as the saying goes, if you don’t take the time to be healthy you better plan to take the time to be ill. This applies to your professional health as well as physical wellbeing.
So, I challenge leaders, and everyone else in the sector, to sit down and really think about the one thing that they would like to change in 2012.
Maybe you have got in a rut, seeing the same people all the time and learning little and you need to develop your networks. Why not ask leaders that you know to suggest three people that they think would be useful contacts for you to have and develop these networks over the next 12 months?
Perhaps you are a CEO who is struggling with their board or Chair. Do you need to think about this relationship differently and work hard to improve it in the next year? If you do not work on improving it, how do you think that it will change? Perhaps you could plan to take a more strategic approach, think about issues from the board's/individual difficult trustee's point of view and present your ideas in a way that makes the benefits clear, documents risks and how you would mitigate them. Perhaps the board lack skills and you might need to work with them to develop their skills? Perhaps you have no idea what is wrong with the relationship and might spend 2012 finding out.
Or maybe you are finding leadership a lonely place. Exploring coaching, mentoring, action learning or peer support might then be your resolution for 2012.
Whatever you decide to do, the New Year can be a great way to take time out and focus your mind on what you would like to change and take time to ask the question “What do I want to be different next year and how can I do it?”
Happy New Year everyone - I hope you have a lovely break and come back in 2012 inspired and motivated. In the meantime, have another mince pie - you know you want to!
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Oonagh Smyth, Senior advisor, shares her advice on governance. Note: Oonagh no longer works for NCVO.