CONSIDER THESE 5 INSIGHTS TO YOUR LEADERSHIP APPROACH IN 2021

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.

TAYLOR SWIFT

If you read my recent blog, “Goal Setting Questions Determine the Path Forward,” then you understand the benefits of putting together well-described goals by following the questioning process below.

Xwhere you are now, or your current reality
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish line
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line

Well, I thought I would piggyback on that topic and share how I will approach 2021. Sure, I have put together 4 goals for 2021. However, in the last few days, I’ve had my inner self (vision) sitting on one shoulder and my outer self (reality) sitting on the other shoulder. Both gave me positive and annoying feedback on how to approach the new year. I know, it sounds weird, but this content came from them.

Being a leader in 2020 has been challenging, but we should be amazed because we have gotten through it. However, as a leader, you should be thinking of your approach in 2021. Things have changed, things will change, and new challenges will come in to play. So we need to embrace this reality and prepare to answer the question;

How do you approach your leadership in these times?

2020 didn’t turn out anywhere near where I thought it would. I hadn’t even the slightest clue the economy would fall, jobs would be lost, and travel would be minimal. I’ve said this before, my daughter’s family moved to Athens, Greece, in January, and we haven’t been able to go and visit. They haven’t been able to come back to the U.S., and my wife and I had to go through Christmas without our grandkids (we face timed). Our hearts were broken! 

I don’t expect 2021 to turn back to how it was before the crisis, but I think we need to think differently and be willing to take a different approach in our leadership. Don’t get me wrong, necessary leadership skills are still valid, but our approach must embrace the current conditions and embrace change. 

Leaders who lead in the real world tend to find success than leaders who lead in a world that doesn’t exist. No one knows the future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare. And while I have no superior insight into the future than you do, I have identified these 5 insights as my approach to 2021. 

1.     Uncertainty

The future is uncertain. Reality says that has been true since the beginning of time. Right now, nothing is predictable. Think about it, a new government and a continual crisis, who knows what will take place.

Leading through uncertainty—requires a whole new skill set. With the future being uncertain, you must lead with agility and flexibility. Those two attributes will allow you to identify change and make the necessary adjustments. 

2. Instability

Uncertainty is one thing. It removes your ability to see what’s ahead.

Instability is different. Instability means the present circumstances are volatile and unsteady. The most effective way to lead through instability is to identify the most traction and utilize your resources to maximize the outcome. The best way to create future momentum is to pour resources into anything that’s producing current momentum. That’s why restaurants are beefing up takeout and drive-thrus. 

In these unstable times, when you find momentum, keep fueling it. And keep the options open.

3.     Economic Unknown

People are spending like there’s no tomorrow and saving money at historic highs. Others on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum go broke. Who knows what’s going to happen next? And the U.S. presidential election throws an extra measure of unpredictability into the mix.

How will I approach the economic strangeness in 2021? I will prepare for a season of savings and charity. You can’t give what you don’t have.

4.     Opportunity

Opportunities always exist in a crisis. Innovation is born out of a crisis. A crisis is an accelerator of new ideas. The current crisis has generated changes such as; the emergence of the home as the new hub for fitness, schooling, work, shopping, entertainment, and church. The very obstacle you’re fearing might be the most incredible opportunity you’re facing. It all depends on how you approach it.

Obstacle or opportunity? The future belongs to those leaders who take advantage of opportunities. 

5.     Internationally Grow Yourself

I saved the most important until last, but the best thing you can do is deepen your personal growth for the year ahead. John Maxwell said, “We see the world NOT as it is, BUT as we are.”

I think the best things in life won’t ever come to us (believe me, I’ve approached much of my life that way). No, what I’ve found is I need to grab them. I don’t expect them to roll downhill to me, but instead, I have to climb the hill and grab them.

Every problem or crisis introduces one to themselves. It brings out the best and worse of us. 

The number one catalyst in growth is identifying growth areas. In life, it’s not what we get that makes us valuable. It’s what we become in the process that brings value to our lives. Action is what converts human dreams into significance. It brings personal value that we can gain from no other source.

So how do we intentionally grow ourselves? Here you go.

  • Take action
  • Re-affirm your values
  • Evaluate your character
  • Experience your inner fulfillment
  • Read books 
  • Listen to various podcast
  • Identify a mentor
  • Consider being coached 

If you want to grow yourself, your growth will thrive in these difficult times. Invest your time and effort to grow yourself intentionally. The results will be astounding!

<p class="has-text-align-left" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><img class="wp-image-7168" style="width:200px;" src="https://leaderinfluence.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/db3-1.jpg&quot; alt="">

<p class="has-text-align-left" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">D<em>enis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis </em>c<em>an be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.</em>Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis can be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.

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GOAL SETTING QUESTIONS DETERMINE THE PATH FORWARD

“A goal without a plan and timeline is just a wish”

DENIS BAKER

We are finally coming to the end of one of the most challenging years of my life! I bet many of you would say the same. 

As I look into the many variable possibilities of 2021, I realize that setting achievable goals is a critical path to achieving success. Many of us feel as if we’re floating in our world, not knowing what will come next. Most of us are hard workers, but maybe we didn’t get where we wanted in 2020, and maybe our attitude has fallen to there is nothing worthwhile.

Regardless of the future, we need to continue our goal-setting activities; whether it is personal or professional, the ability to know where we want to go will give us the skill to pick the right road going in the right direction. However, the way we approach the process determines the outcome. The process of setting goals helps identify where you want to go. By knowing specifically what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. This will enable you to quickly identify distractions that can lead you off course.

To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to clearly write them. You can’t merely say, “I want,” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that requires careful consideration of what you want, the hard to do and ends with the desired outcome. 

In recent years, I have added a phase to my goal-setting process. Not only do I identify what I want to achieve by year’s end, but I now ask questions to define the specific goal I want to achieve.

Here is my new questioning process;

Xwhere you are now, or your current reality
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish line
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line

EXAMPLES

Let me give you some example to clarify my statement;

When the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) was developed in the 1950s, the original goal was;

“Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

When John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, he changed NASA’s goal to

“Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

Let’s put the 1950s NASA goal through the test: “Leading the World in Space Exploration.”

Xwhere are you now, or your current reality?Unknown
Ywhere do you want to go? what will be your finish line?The word “leading” is somewhat vague.  Results undetermined.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish line?Unknown, it doesn’t list any timeline

Now let’s run JFK’s revised goal through the test: “Land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth before this decade is out.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityEarth
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineMoon—with a safe return to Earth. What will be your finish line? A successful launch, landing, and re-entry.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineDecember 31, 1969.

 Looking at these two tests, which one would answer the questions below?

  1. In which decade would you have wanted to work for NASA? The 50s or the 60s?
  2. In which decade was the goal crystal clear? The 50s or the 60s?

If you focus on JFK’s revised goal, I think you know the right answers.

Let’s look at a more realistic example.

ORIGINAL GOAL – “Improve the onboarding process for new hires.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityUnknown
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineTo improve the process. Results undetermined.
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineUnknown, it doesn’t list any timeline

REVISED GOAL – Reduce onboarding time for new hires by 50 percent in quarter two by establishing a detailed onboarding process with at least five training courses and three shadowing opportunities with experienced team members.”

Xwhere you are now, or your current realityLong onboarding process
Ywhere do you want to go—what will be your finish lineReduce the time by 50%.  New hire onboarding process that includes 5 courses and three shadowing opportunities with an experienced employee
WhenThe date you want to cross the finish lineBy the end of the 2nd quarter

Both of these examples provide clear outcomes of asking the right questions to determine the clarity of each goal. 

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

When we have clearly defined goals with expected outcomes and achievement dates, we set the path forward down the chosen road to achieving our vision and desires for the new year.

If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it everytime.”

UNKNOWN
<p class="has-text-align-left" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><img class="wp-image-7168" style="width:200px;" src="https://leaderinfluence.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/db3-1.jpg&quot; alt="">

<p class="has-text-align-left" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">D<em>enis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis </em>c<em>an be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.</em>Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis can be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.

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WHEN YOU HIT A SLUMP, DON’T JUMP

I don’t sleep, I lay in bed longer than I ever have in years, I get frustrated over the littlest things, people don’t follow the rules and expectations. I think I have fallen into a slump. I ask myself regularly, “is it worth the effort to try and fix this? I’ll answer that in a bit.

Baseball players fall into hitting slumps, the stock market hits slumps, restaurants and retail chains have slumped, running backs can’t gain any yards, NASCAR drivers can’t win a race. Of course, leaders fall into slumps. Come on, we all fall into slumps!

It can be challenging to know when we fall into a slump because it is hard to define when and where it began. But I think we all know when we are in one.

When a leader falls into a slump, the influential leaders will fight their way out. The others will look for the easy way out. We can fall into a slump at any time. Many leaders have found themselves in multiple situations during this past challenging year, where they fall into a slump or two or three. I know I have fallen into slumps several times and have had to work hard to recover fully. 

What are some signs of a slump?

  • Not meeting budgets
  • Not addressing customer needs
  • I can’t get the sales I need to make the salary I am used to
  • The plan isn’t being executed or isn’t working
  • People aren’t following expected safety behaviors or following our policies and procedures
  • My team won’t respond to my expectations

When we fall into a slump, we are often tempted to look for a faster way out. We become somewhat fixated on looking for a short cut to fix everything. Sometimes short cuts put us in an even deeper slump. It may not be now, but it can certainly affect tomorrow. Crawling out of a slump can be a challenge; it is grueling and can be a long road to recovery. We are struggling; the lure of an invincible shortcut can be irresistible.

Giving in to a shortcut can result in a high cost of negativity;

Loss of credibility

  • Loss of respect
  • Loss of trust
  • Confusion among the team
  • Slowing of momentum
  • Reduction in your influence

So, what are these leadership shortcuts? Here are three of the most common shortcuts leaders take when trying to get out of their slump.

Creating policies or procedures

Achieving the vision requires a leader to move people forward. It requires influence, high-performance team members, responsibility, and accountability. But instead of doing this hard work, leaders tend to opt instead to churn out a few policies and procedures. I understand policies and procedures play a significant part in business; however, they can’t be the result of a slumping leader.

Losing it!

When a person loses their cool, it’s like a child throwing a temper tantrum. Our frustration comes out, so we pitch a fit. It’s like we are creating an atmosphere of fear and manipulation. Leadership is not about fear, manipulation, and position; it is about persuasion, engagement, and influence.  

Do it, and create another shortcut.

Reorganizing

Reorganize your team, your vision …or anything else.

A leader paralyzed with indecision will whip out a piece of paper, run to a whiteboard and start drawing boxes, circles, and lines with abandon.

A new and exciting thing will emerge in time, and the resulting change will provide another illusion that real leadership has taken place.

But, once again, it’s just another shortcut.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Shortcuts, really? Shortcuts are not the solution to the situation, rather they are a temporary fix to creating an everlasting leadership challenge. Leadership can be difficult. Pulling yourself out of the slump requires a lot of effort; moving forward requires a tremendous effort and determination. 

Go deeper, not wider. Going deep will lead to wide.

In difficult times, it can be very attractive to take a shortcut. But resist the easy way “out” and instead be committed to the hard work of leadership.

To answer my question up top, it is worth fixing your slump; the results will be worth it.

<p class="has-text-align-left" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80"><img class="wp-image-7168" style="width:200px;" src="https://leaderinfluence.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/db3-1.jpg&quot; alt="">

<p class="has-text-align-left" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">D<em>enis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis </em>c<em>an be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.</em>Denis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management and is currently a Director of Health & Safety for a major supply chain organization. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader. Denis can be reach by email at; dbaker@leaderinfluence.net to receive more information on improving your leadership and increasing your teams performance.

Answering These 4 Questions Will Increase Your Future

“Asking the right questions is as important as answering them.”

BENOIT MANDELBROT

Being a leader in regular times can be a challenge. Being a leader in a crisis can be a complicated challenge. Successful leadership in regular times is hard enough. Trying to figure out what to do during a global crisis is CRAZY!

The best approach to embrace the current situation is to do what is right and ensure you protect your family, friends, and yourself. It also means doing what is necessary to increase your professional efficiency through leadership. But I think the biggest challenge is how we approach the future. Things aren’t going to be the same. 

I like what Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM, said,

The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer.” 

I believe he is right on. Questions will generate answers, and answers will generate our actions. I think most of us have some frustrations due to the situation; I know I have. You’ve probably have heard more angry voices in your head and in your ears than ever before. Again, I know I have.  

To help reduce your frustrations and to be able to take the stance of a healthy and efficient leader, here are four questions to consider to outline the future.  

What can I change?

Think back to all those things pre-COVID things you wished you could change or stop doing. Maybe you didn’t change them because you didn’t realize you wanted or needed to change. Maye you but didn’t have the commitment, courage, or energy to make it happen. Well, now’s the time. Normal is gone, Now is the perfect time to make new things happen!  

You must figure out what needs to change and how to effectively make the change happen!

How would you approach a new role in these times?

It can be hard to transition into a new role. Old vehicles wouldn’t do well well in new air emission eras. 

I spoke at conferences and events as part of my pre-COVID life. I haven’t spoken at a live event since February 2020. Everything now is virtual. I’ve had to learn to embrace the fact that you can’t walk through the audience and hug people and shake their hands. My daughter and her family moved to Athens, Greece. Since the beginning of February, my wife and I haven’t seen my son-in-law, daughter, or grandkids in person. 

With COVID positives seeing a surge and mandatory quarantines coming back into play in place, I don’t know when speaking in person will come back or when I will be able to see my grandkids.

If you were launching as a speaker right now, how would you approach it? If you had family out of the country, how would you maintain strong relationships?

Once you know the answer to those questions, I think you will understand your new approach and succeed.  

Existing leaders who think differently and embrace change will have a much better future than their counterparts. 

Where does the real momentum lie?

Momentum is the product of the mass and the velocity of an object. Here is a more simpler definition; strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. It might feel like you have no momentum anywhere, but that won’t be true for most people. (If it is true—the problems are much deeper than a global crisis.) All of us have some kind of momentum going on. Maybe it is different than before, but it is happening.

For example, you might be focused on getting people back in the offices because that’s where you feel you historically had momentum. The concern is, we focus so much on the past that we become fixated on trying to re-manufacture previous situations that we miss the opportunity to look at things differently. A good example is remote workers. Due to being forced to have people work from home, many organizations have found that remote workers are more productive, have a stronger moral, and seem to be a lot happier working from home. Sure, there are challenges, but remote workers can be just as productive or even more productive when given flexibility.

You probably have momentum somewhere. Figure it out. Study it. Determine why that momentum is growing and the benefits and how to maximize it’s potential.

If you want to exceed your goals, fuel what’s growing, not what’s declining.

If you choose to stay where you are, soon, you’re staring out the window watching the future pass you buy.

Can I sustain the pace?

I’m running into so many exhausted and frustrated leaders right now. Look, I’ve been there myself. Most leaders look to mental time off or vacation to reduce frustration and improve energy. I that approach will never give you enough time off to recover from the stress and frustration. I believe time off can revise your energy and reduce stress temporarily. Here is another example. I am a member of my organization’s COVID Sub-Committee. Our fundamental role is to assist our employees in dealing with COVID related issues. I recently took a few days off. When I returned back to the work environment, the stress and frustration beat me there. I believe we need to take time off and continue to build relationships with family and enjoy the life we have, but time off isn’t going to change your unsustainable pace.

You have to consider how you approach and react to each situation, whether temporary or drawn out. Making necessary mental and physical adjustments to create a sustainable pace is the solution! 

I suggest we ask the question, “how can I create a sustainable pace?”  In my personal approach to eliminate burnout, I make constant adjustments to achieve this phrase:

lead today in a way that you will exceed tomorrow.”

Most leaders lead in a way that will make them struggle tomorrow. We all have to work more hours, which affects our diet, reduces our exercise time and our ability to build our relationships. However, our desire is to find a sustainable pace heading to successfully achieve your personal and professional goals during this crisis and beyond.

SO WHAT, NOW WHAT

Moving forward, ask yourself: what changes can I make to ensure I exceed expectations in this current crisis and beyond? 

Your answers and resultant actions to these 5 questions are critical to your future success. We have to change, and we must maximize our momentum. Think about stopping a train and what effort it takes to get it moving again. The changes we make will determine our ability to lead others through this time of crisis and change.