What will you do as a leader in 2019? setting yourself up for success

Welcome to the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. In a world where knowledge has become a commodity, this podcast is designed to give you something more; access to the experience of a successful CEO who has already walked the path. So join your host Martin Moore, who will unlock and bring to life your own leadership experiences, and accelerate your journey to leadership excellence.

Hi there and welcome to Episode 18 of the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast. Today's episode, What Will You Do As A Leader In 2019, aka Setting Yourself Up For Success.

Now as the New Year's hangover subsides, we need to start thinking about what we're going to make happen in 2019, and it is absolutely up to us to make it happen. For ourselves, for our team and for our organisations.

So we're going to start by talking about why New Year's resolutions don't work, so I hope you made all those yesterday, because today's the 2nd, you can forget about those and move on. But it is about setting up better habits, and so I'm going to ask you to pay attention to what you're doing, so that you can do that. We're going to talk about where you're going, both long term and short term, and then how to hold yourself to account, because not everyone can have a coach riding shotgun every day to make sure you're doing the things you've committed to yourself to do. So let's get into it.

Hey guys, Em here. Now I know you want to make the most out of 2019, and that's why you're listening to this podcast today. So if you haven't checked out our free online Master Class, Leadership Level Up head to courses.yourceomentor.com and get started on the five lessons we've put together. It will take you around 20 minutes in total, and it's really going to set you up for a cracking 2019. So put it on your to-do list for this week.

Alright, on to the episode.

I think we all know that New Year's resolutions don't actually work, and I think one of the reasons for that is that we make them for the wrong reasons. We make them out of guilt, we make them out of frustration, we make them because the Christmas cheer has actually got us bogged down a bit, and we feel like we need to reset ourselves.

But when we do that on the 1 January and we try, and make commitments to things that are long-lasting, it's really hard to do, because we're not doing it with a clear head. And this is how the gym membership model used to be based before flexibility came through competition. Gyms would rely on people to walk in there in those first couple of weeks of January, buy a 12 month membership and then not turn up after the 20 January. So there was only a very small percentage of those memberships that they actually had to service. Now of course, it's not like that today. But I've been guilty in the past of doing exactly that.

Maybe you do though, want to set up some better habits for 2019 with a view to the long term. And this does give us pause while we're not really busy at work, to think about what the right things are that we should aspire to? Now I'm assuming that you all have some sort of long range plan, and you don't necessarily need to know exactly where that's gong to take you, because I still don't know exactly where my long range plan is going to take me. But I can say that at any point of time for the last 15 years, I've had a view of the next 5 to 10, and even though I many not have known exactly what I wanted to do, I knew that these things were going to take me towards something better and it was going to actually put me in a position where I was doing the things that I was happiest, doing. I'd be growing, I'd be having impact and I would be challenging myself as I went through.

It's only in the last couple of years that I've actually worked out what my true life's purpose is, and that's what I'm doing now. But prior to that, I was just moving forward doing the things that I knew were going to help.

Now, when you're going to set your short term plan you really need to have a view to that long range plan, so that you know whether, or not it's taking you a step in the right direction or not.

Steven Pressfield, the famous author once said, "The difference between an amateur and a professional is in their habits. An amateur has amateur habits. A professional has professional habits." Now I know that sounds super obvious, but it's not. And if you look at elite levels of anything, whether it's business or sport, you'll see that the people who are at the very, very top are simply more professional. They have better habits and more commitment to what they're doing.

But bad habits are just so easy to form. I ought to know, I've got heaps of them and I've got to keep them in check all the time. Good habits, not so much. But we're actually the sum of our habits. So for example, I at least have the good habit of a daily reflection discipline, which we spoke about all the way back in the very first episode of the No Bullsh!t Leadership podcast, that every day I'm in the habit of reflecting on what I've done, and why I've done it. And because I've done that for a lot of years, it's really helped me to understand why I'm doing things and to actually rectify and change where I think I'm not doing the right things, or I'm slipping into my bad habits again.

Now, I've evolved this a little over the last few years, and particularly thanks to my high performance coach, Rachel Vickery who is just a fantastic person, has made such a big difference to the way I do things. Each day I keep myself more honest than I have in the past, with a spreadsheet, a very simple spreadsheet of things that I intend to do that day. And every day is the same, and I need to check these things off and look at it over the course of a month, and see how committed I've been to the things I say that are the right habits for me to form.

And to form any sort of habit takes you about two to three months, and so if you want to change your habits, you've got to commit to doing these things for a period of time, and to keep yourself honest doing it.

For me, some things are really, really simple. So for example, did I wake up when I planned to wake up, which every day is 4:45AM? Did I do that today? Did I exercise after I woke up? And then going through the day there are different things that I commit to doing. But every night before I leave my office, I leave that spreadsheet open on my computer, so it is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and go to my desk. And when I do that, it reminds me that those are the disciplines that I've committed to myself that I'm going to maintain.

So I guess what I want you to get out of this little diatribe is, pay attention. Start paying attention to what you do and why you do it. And if you did nothing else, paying attention would make a massive difference to how you are as a leader, and to how you are as a person. But we're going to go a bit beyond this, right. So that's the start, pay attention.

But what habits would you set if you were given the chance?

Now, let's assume we all want to improve our leadership performance, is which is why you're listening to this now. But having insight and personal awareness is absolutely critical. Knowing yourself, is the first step to being a great leader. And so apart from the daily reflection discipline that I spoke about, and perhaps doing something to keep yourself in check and monitor what you're doing, there's also a baseline level of knowledge you need about yourself.

Now, a 360 degree feedback mechanism is sometimes pretty useful to find out what the people around you think about your performance, and then how that relates to how you think your performance is. And this goes into the behavioural side of things as well. But for the executives that I worked with at CS Energy, I made sure that every single one of them, and I must say including myself, did a full suite of testing. Now this testing included all the standard aptitude testing, so verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning. It included critical thinking disciplines. It included an emotional intelligence test, and it also had a personality profile. And the holistic view of these things gave us an outstanding baseline for where we were as people, and where we might need to move. What things we might need to develop, and what things we might need to take care of to not fall into the traps of, because some bad habits are driven out of our personalities.

So big shout out to Frances Avenell who used to run that testing for us, and the way she would be able to brief us on these findings was so valuable, I can't even begin to tell you. And having that knowledge and being armed with that information, we could really move forward and help ourselves to develop. And I've never seen a team work harder on its own self development as leaders, than I saw this team work.

So let's talk about where we're going. Now, any good organisation will set a purpose and a strategy, and they'll support those things with tactical and operational plans that look at different time frames. Why would you not do this for your personal career and your own direction?

The first step is the work out what you're trying to head towards? As they say in the classics, "If you don't know where you're going, then any path will do." I also like the old Irish joke about the man that stopped for directions in the countryside of Ireland, and the gentleman he asked said, "If you're trying to get to Dublin, I certainly wouldn't start from here," and that's really what it's all about. Know where you are now, know where you're trying to head, and then you'll actually work out whether the signposts along the way are taking you in the right direction, or the wrong direction.

But working out what you want longer term, is not a simple thing to do. And it's actually not, believe it or not, it's not an intellectual process. It's not about sitting down and setting goals. This is about really searching yourself, and I don't know whether you guys do meditation, or something else to clear your heads, but it's getting that visceral feeling inside, about when something resonates with you as being the direction you want to head. The things you really want to do with your life. And I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but I've got to tell you, I'm getting a helluva lot closer in understanding my purpose.

And so, being able to do that, and working out what your long range plan is, is really, really important. Now there will be a lot of material stuff, but don't let that distract you. There's nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing at all. But, if it was about money and power, then why would we see children who are heirs to fortunes, who have unlimited wealth and power, committing suicide? My view is, it's clearly about more than that, and it's fine to have the trophies along the way, but you've really got to be looking for something that's going to give you more as a person.

So this stuff doesn't come naturally, but I just encourage you to spend some time each day trying to conjure that feeling, trying to get that resonance of what you're actually thinking about doing, and whether that resonates with you in your core as your true purpose? And if it doesn't, keep working at it.

But once you have that overall plan for where you want to go, the question is, what do you do right now? Because here we are, on the 2 January 2019 looking into the new year, and you want to have a cracking year regardless of anything else. So first step is to project forward, and imagine what it looks like on 31 December 2019 when you look back, did you achieve the things that tell you, you've had your best year ever?

There's a little technique I'm going to share with you, that I use with senior leaders and this is extremely powerful. And what I say to them is, imagine that in 12 months time, you had to leave this organisation and find another job. So you only have 12 months here left in this role that you're in. What are the one or two or maybe three at the most, really big things that you want to have on your resume when you step into the market in 12 months? What are the things that as achievements, would really set you apart from the field when you're trying to secure your next role? And so that focuses people down on, what am I actually really doing? Am I just mucking around cranking the handle? Am I just turning over day-to-day business as usual, or am I making a really big difference and adding value? And that's going to give some cues as to where you should be.

Now I just want to step back for a minute, just to talk about Leadership Beyond The Theory, which is a programme we're going to be releasing in late February. If you never did anything else other than listen to these podcasts, and they really help you to become a better leader, then that's fantastic, and I'm so happy for you and that's why we're here, is to create that sort of impact. But for those of you who want to go to the next level, Leadership Beyond The Theory brings all of this stuff together in a way that's going to help you drive forward, and turbo charge your career. So, more on this later but for those of you who are interested, I'd encourage you to go over to our website www.yourceomentor.com and register your interest, so that you don't miss out on the first cohort.

All right, let's finish this off. How are you now going to hold yourself to account, because once you work out what the one or two or maybe three at the most, big things you wanted to do this year are, you've got to find a way of getting yourself into the habits that are going to deliver those.

And as a leader, what we have to remember is that great teams and great organisations are underpinned by a very strong accountability culture, and this actually starts with you as the leader. And so, if you're a leader who holds herself to account, then your people are going to see that and know that you're actually working on stuff, and going through the habits and trying and failing, but getting better as you move forward and not looking back. And if you're modelling that sort of behaviour, it's much more likely that your team's going to do that as well. So you've got to eat your own dog food. I don't know how many times I've said that, but you've really got to be the exemplar for your organisation.

What you're really trying to do is to model what it looks like to take personal accountability for your growth as a leader. And when you do that, some surprising things are going to happen to the people around you. So if you need to get a bit of baseline position for where you are, so that you understand where you're starting from, you don't necessarily have to go through the gruelling four hours that Frances Avenell administers, that gives you a full suite of tests on where you are, but at least get some sort of 360 degree feedback so that you can see the way you're perceived by other people around you, both in terms of how you perform and how you behave. Get that done, if you haven't done it already. Awareness is so important.

And once you've done that, you'll get some insights and for those insights, pay attention. Start to pay attention to what you do. Incorporate that daily reflection discipline, if you haven't already. I'll get it attached to the show notes so that you can download it again if you want to. But get that done, so that each day you're asking yourself the questions about how you're behaving, and how you're performing in those areas that you know you're weak or that you know you need to improve.

Beyond that, it's just a matter of setting up your daily spreadsheet. And so, put the things that for you are the habits that you want to form, that are going to give you a better chance at success, because you want professional habits, not amateur habits.

I am really looking forward to 2019. It's going to be an incredible year. I'm going to be riding shotgun with you on your journey all the way through. So we intend to continue to release a podcast episode every Wednesday morning, and we're going to continue to deal with the issues that we think are most going to be able to improve your leadership performance.

I hope you can join us again next week for a meaty start to 2019, Making Great Decisions aka Getting The Most Out Of Your People. Until then, please if you're enjoying this podcast series, please share it with your leadership network, because we want to reach even more leaders and have even more impact.

So until then, I know you'll do everything you can to be a No Bullsh!t Leader.