Guest post by Great Leadership monthly contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:
As a Vistage Chair for almost 8 years, one of the rituals my group has is an annual wrap up. Each member reflects back over the past 12 months and then looks ahead to the next year. This time has proven valuable to members. Many have seen their companies and their leadership grow year over year.
Reflecting on the Past
During the time of reflection, members will journal their successes and shortcomings as a leader as well as their teams success and failure. The process is not complex yet it can be difficult, especially when it comes to admitting your mistakes and shortcomings. The key is to define the failures that you had control over. For instance, if you own an insurance agency, the Affordable Care Act, may be affecting your business. What are the things that you had control over that you did not act on which had a negative impact on your business? The answer may be lack of expansion into other lines of insurance.
On the flip side, successes should be celebrated. So often I find that leaders will beat themselves up on set backs, yet spend little time celebrating their accomplishments! They are their own worse critics and it takes this type of self- reflection exercise to help over achievers recognize the great things they accomplished during the past year.
With mistakes identified, I have members then identify two behaviors or skills that if they improved would increase their leadership effectiveness. This helps to focus their attention on what they need to develop over the next year. I often suggest that they confirm their self-assessment with key employees who they respect. Or better yet, use a 360 assessment to confirm their beliefs.
To conclude this part of the annual wrap up process, the members of the Vistage group meet in groups of three and share their reflections with other members. This method gets leaders to practice transparency and humility, two competencies that are important to leaders.
A Self-Reflection form is found here.
Looking toward the Future
The future is about setting goals. These are goals that will stretch a leader past his or her comfort zone while at the same time being achievable. They are stretch goals, not break goals!
After years of working with leaders, setting professional goals is a smooth process but when it comes to developing personal goals many leaders often struggle. The point of personal goals is to help keep leaders balanced, and they are used to improve the quality of life, love, and happiness. The lack of a proper balance between business and personal goals can lead to executive stress and burn out. And stress can lead to all sorts of negative behaviors that show up both personally and professionally.
The main areas of personal goals generally fall into the following categories: health, family and friends, hobbies and interests, spiritual, and financial.
From a professional side of the goal equation, leaders need to get clear on the important and not the urgent. What are those goals, if accomplished, will get the company closer to their vision while staying true to their mission and values.
And with all SMART goals, the ability to measure success is important. I know this sounds simple, yet time and again I see goals written by leaders that are too vague, such as “get tougher with employees”. So how do you measure this goal, is this the real goal? Why do you want to get tougher? Is it accountability or something else that you need to be focused on?
This annual ritual within my Vistage group has provided leaders with a written document of where they have been over the past year and a map of where they want to go over the next year. And the results include, many successful company sales, transitions to next generations, as well as growth during some difficult economic times.
Beth Armknecht Miller is CEO of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Beth is a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is a graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program. She is certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA. And she is a Certified Managerial Coach. Beth’s insight and expertise has made her a sought-after speaker, and she has been featured in numerous industry blogs and publications. To learn more about Beth visit BethArmknechtMiller.comor Executive-Velocity.com.