Monthly Archives: December 2019

Next year, let’s make it really smarter

How many really made it until today? – How many of the New Year’s resolutions, you set yourself one year ago? None? Let me assure you, you are not alone. According to Inc. magazine four out of five New Year’s Resolutions fail. Most of them don’t even survive the first six weeks of the year.

However, the crux of achieving what is important to you is not (only) a lack of discipline – but often a lack of clarity. The same is true for organisations: leaders need to ensure overarching corporate visions and missions are translated into “SMART” team and personal objectives.

I trust many of you, many leaders are familiar with the SMART concept. And thus, I am often surprised by the lack of its implementation in the real world, I often notice unprecise goals formulations, not promoting alignment of teams around what is to be achieved. So as we are about to enter a new year, I’d like to invite you to stop and have a check on your next year objectives.

 Your leadership objectives – take heart, make it SMART:

Let me illustrate this with a sporting example. Say you’re a keen runner and you want to push yourself further:

Is “I want to do more sports” a smart resolution/objective? No. Better: “I want to run the Berlin marathon in October”. Why?

 –      Make your objective as specific as possible. Turn a great but vague idea (mastering a physical challenge) into a focused and clear target: running 42 kilometres at a stretch. Commit yourself and prove it: sign up for the race.

–      The more concrete your objective, the better you can measure it. Or in other words: “Knowing where you’re going is the only way of knowing whether you’re on track.” Ask yourself: “how will I know very concretely that I have achieved this objective?”

 –      Dreaming big is nice – but turning dreams into reality is even nicer. Be courageous and push yourself to your limits – but choose goals that are achievable! If an amateur runner directly aims at the “Ironman”, failure is assured. A marathon or half-marathon would do.

 –      Concentrate on relevant things. Your time and energy are too scarce to waste on unnecessary projects. So, set priorities! If the marathon is your dream, do it. If not, skip it – and choose a goal that matches your interests and values! Go for what is really important to you.

 –      Set your objectives in time – both short and long-term. If you want to run the marathon in October, start training early. And set intermediate milestone targets along the way. These smaller targets should also follow the above-mentioned principles: when do you want to face 10 or 15 kilometres? Keeping track of your progress will motivate you to keep on going.

 To sum it up: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely objectives? That’s what is called SMART.

A little help: When making fresh New Year’s Resolutions and setting objectives for this coming year, SEE IT, FEEL IT, PICTURE IT, keep your runner in mind: she or he is a symbol for any objective leaders set – whether it is in their private or professional lives.

Courage in crises​

How do you work on your resilience? Train it – Gain from it! Here are a few thoughts on where to start.

In times of extreme stress, people often ask me for insights on how to stay the course and continue to show leadership. For me, leadership is all about courage, and courage is the spark that gets us all moving. It is at the heart of what we do as leaders.

But in times of transformation we are constantly faced with the pressure of new challenges, new situations. Our workload can be unforgiving. This is why an essential part of being a leader is finding a way to pick oneself up and get going again when the pressure cranks up and results turn against you.

Because resilience can in fact be developed and trained. It’s not some inherent, immutable character trait. To a large extent, it is conditioned through the experiences that life brings. Both positive and negative experiences contribute to our resilience. “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” as we often say.

One approach I like to use for talking about resilience is the Robertson Cooper model. According to this model, developed by psychologists Ivan Robertson and Cary Cooper, resilience is determined by four key aspects: confidence, adaptability, social support and purposefulness.

Confidence comes with experience and the knowledge that we have overcome previous challenges. Your adaptability likewise grows with an awareness that you have faced change in the past and have coped and managed its impact. You can train and enhance both your confidence and adaptability by recalling previous challenges you have faced.

Social support and purposefulness relate to specific aspects of courage. Social support starts with having the courage to admit weakness, to articulate when the going gets tough and ask for support. Purposefulness is having a clear set of values which give you an overriding sense of direction even in the most challenging times. Purposefulness is about knowing WHY and understanding the benefits at the end.

Be proud of what you’ve done already and gather the courage to take the necessary step to keep going.