Even though we’re just a few days removed from 2020, the first work week of the new year represents a blank slate. Most of 2021 still lies ahead and we have lots of opportunity right now to think about how we want to influence the outcomes that are yet to be created.
Gandhi wrote that, “In regard to every action, one must know the result that is expected to follow.” That linking of cause and effect applies to everyone, but because of the ripple effect their actions have, I think it especially applies to leaders.
Which brings me to the question, “Who do you need to be this year?”
Later in this post, I’m going to share a process with you to answer and act on that question, but first, let me clarify it. By asking it, I’m not suggesting that you try to turn yourself into something you’re not. Rather, I’m asking you to consider what your family, team, colleagues and other stakeholders need most from you this year and how you can consistently bring the best version of yourself to the table to meet those needs. I’m also not saying that you should focus on everyone else’s needs to the exclusion of your own. I’m just saying that you need to be intentional about factoring their needs into your equation. It’s about being aware of your stakeholders’ needs and intentional about how you show up to create the positive outcomes that matter most.
This is why the first of the three questions in the Eblin Group’s Life GPS® personal planning tool is “How are you at your best?” The second is “What are the routines – the repeatable actions – that will make it more likely that you show up at your best?” The third and final question is about results – “What outcomes would you expect to see in the three big arenas of life – home, work and community – if you were consistently at your best?” The Life GPS® is designed to help you do what Gandhi suggested – be intentional about linking your actions to results.
So, we’re back to the earlier question, “Who do you need to be this year?” Before we get too much deeper into 2021, I encourage you to take some time to consider the question as it relates to you, your stakeholders and all the things you want to accomplish together this year.
Here’s a four-step process for doing that:
- Make a list organized by your key stakeholder groups – family, team, colleagues, customers and so on. For each group, jot down how you think they need you to be to help them create positive outcomes this year. Words that might come to mind could include qualities like supportive, encouraging, clear, calm, inspiring, directive, engaged, open, generous or any number of others that fit their needs.
- Make a second list of the words that describe you when you’re at your best. These are the qualities that represent you when you’re operating in the sweet spot that leads to positive outcomes.
- Compare the words on list one and list two and circle the ones that appear on both. The words that you circled are the ones that tell you who you need to be this year. You can think of those words as being in the center of the Venn Diagram of what your stakeholders need from you and how you are at your best. This is where you need to focus your efforts this year in linking your actions to intended results.
- To do that, make one last list of simple things you could do on a regular basis to reinforce those qualities in the way you show up for your stakeholders. This step is based on a principle that Aristotle wrote about called praxis. Praxis is an ancient Greek word that means doing. The practical application of the principle is that if you want to be a certain way, then do things that lead to you being that way. For instance, if you’ve determined that being supportive is at the nexus of what your stakeholders need from you this year and how you are when you’re at your best then you might adopt the routine of regularly asking your family or team members what they most need from you or how you could best help them accomplish their goals. The more you do that, the more supportive you’ll be.
So, who do you need to be this year? Before too much more of 2021 is in the books, I encourage you to take some time to ask, answer and act on that question.
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