Welcome Winter for All Its Worth
When it comes to winter, are you a “love it” or “loathe it” kind of leader? Do you typically warm up to this season like a crackling fire, or weather it like an annual head cold? Does this time of year energize or deflate you and those you lead? I guess what I’m asking is this: based on your demeanor in December, would your colleagues and clients change your nameplate to “Saint Nick” or “Scrooge”?
Love it or loathe it, every leader faces winter personally and professionally every year. This annual fiscal chapter can be invigorating for some and depressing for others. If left unchecked by leaders, winter will take an unwelcome toll on inspiration, team dynamics, motivation, productivity, customer relations, the bottom line, and overall organizational culture. It’s no wonder so many fly south hoping an avoidance strategy is able to whisk away winter’s challenges.
Your perspective, attitude, and engagement as a leader affects the people around you—especially in the dead of winter. Instead of rushing in or resisting winter, invest some time to make the most of it. Brew a cup of tea, grab your leadership journal, answer the seven questions below, and launch into the new year on the right foot. Whether you’re known for bearing winter bliss or bemoaning winter’s blues, you can start this season in a better frame of mind and welcome winter for all its worth!
1. What do you love and loathe about winter?
Outside the 90 days between December 21 and March 20, “winter” is also a metaphor for a dormant season in a leader’s life. It’s when the last proverbial leaf has fallen, nothing seems to be growing, and drought easily gives birth to doubt. Instead of rushing through winter or resisting its presence, welcome this season’s lessons as a gift. You may also want to unpack how your current disposition toward winter came to be.
2. Where have you been the past 12 months?
Revisiting your key accomplishments and unfinished goals from the previous year can set you up for success in the future. Don’t just focus on yourself, however. What was most meaningful in the life of your organization, colleagues, and clients that also affected you?
3. How did you change for the better (or worse) last year?
Hopefully, after revisiting where you’ve been, you can summarize three to five ways you’ve grown and developed as a leader. Be honest about where you’ve improved as well as what you’ve let slide. Reflecting on who you are and how you want to be will help you lead yourself and your team more effectively.
4. What matters most to you as you move ahead?
Prioritization of core values is an essential part of leadership. That said, you can’t make wise decisions along the way if you don’t know what matters most. Inventory last year’s calendar and checkbook entries. As you reconsider what really matters, let this exercise push back by highlighting what actually mattered last year.
5. Who do you want (and need) to connect with this year?
While leaders say their most important asset is people, their schedules don’t always support this belief. Think about those who are personally and professionally closest to you or should be. How much are they benefiting from the amount of quality and quantity time you’re investing in them? Choose to reconnect with people before it’s too late.
6. What do you need to start, stop, or stay doing to succeed?
Lots of people dive into January saying, “New year, new you,” but very few resolutions finish strong by year's end. Why? Because resolutions don’t do the work—leaders with healthy pursuits and relational support do! Reestablish your boundaries—what you’ll pursue and protect—so it’s crystal clear what you will and will not go after this year. Start with eating, sleeping, playing, relating, and working well. Then, as your capacity grows, add on additional healthy pursuits from there.
7. How will you honor this season before spring shows up?
When it comes to leadership, one of the greatest predictors of in-season performance is off-season preparation. Just because trees go bare in winter doesn’t mean they aren’t full of life. Their roots stay tapped into the soil, their unseen vascular system sustains invaluable nutrients, and their bark withstands whatever elements wintery weather brings. When you begin to recognize the value of preparing for spring and welcome winter for all its worth, you will accelerate growing into the leader you were made to be.