Compliments of the season. May the Spirit of the risen Lord be upon us all this season and beyond. As we come to the end of the year, it is a good time to take stock and look back at the year. How has it been? Perhaps you haven’t been able to achieve all you set out this year, but I am sure that there are things to be thankful for. It’s a good time to ask oneself some questions, such as: “Have I done my best?”; “What could I have done better?”; “What do I plan to do next year that will be different?” or “How do I intend to impact the lives of others positively?”. These are some of the questions we can begin to ask ourselves as we end this year and prepare for 2022.
This week I am going to take us down memory lane as I recall some of the things we have looked at over the past few months. These are things I think are worthy of emphasis as we take stock and look ahead to the new year.
First is that character sustains personal success. In the words of the late Ed Cole: “It is possible for your talent to take you to a place where your character cannot sustain you”. Well-known sportsmen, entertainers, corporate titans, politicians, and public figures have fallen from grace because their talent and capability took them to great heights but without the character to sustain their success, they came crashing down. Authors Harold Myra and Marshall Shelley in their book The Leadership Secrets of Billy Graham, said: “talent is not sufficient to sustain a leader’s effectiveness if the ever-present human flaws are not addressed.” Until character issues are addressed, capability will always be compromised. As you close this year, remember that your character is what will sustain whatever success you have been given the privilege to attain.
Second, failure is a reality of life and is not your end. Perhaps failure has been your experience in 2021 either personally or professionally. Alex Ferguson, the successful manager who led Manchester United Football Club to many successes, said “..we are all haunted by failure”. There is no leader who will admit that they are not familiar with failure to some extent.
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No one wins all the time, and there is no one who has become a successful leader who has not had their own share of failures. Leaders must therefore be resilient: able to recover and keep moving forward in the face of failure and adverse situations. A quote attributed to Winston Churchill says: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” The world will throw a lot at you, and resilience is needed in all those who will become effective leaders no matter where they are. Whatever it is, embrace the lessons embedded in your failures so that you can be a better and more effective person in future.
Thirdly you must develop the attitude and disposition that encourages personal leadership development. We must be able to acknowledge what we don’t know and take steps to fill the knowledge or capacity gaps. We must be able to handle constructive negative feedback. If you are unable to accept feedback that is constructive though negative, you will miss genuine opportunities to develop your leadership capacity. We must engage in continuous learning: building our knowledge, skills, and technical competence. Set yourself a personal development goal for the new year and work towards it. I am sure you will be amazed at the changes that would begin to see in yourself in three to six months.
As a necessary part of personal self-development, you must be able to deal with change. First you must be able to anticipate change and then you must be able to change what is not working. To anticipate change, ask yourself where you think change that will impact your business and life is going to come from, and how you think it will come. The answer to this sets the agenda for you, determining where and how you need to develop your leadership capacity. The other part of dealing with change is that you must be able to change what is not working. After anticipating change, you need to identify if there is anything you are currently doing that is not working. When you have identified this, you must have the courage to change it.
Lastly, show leadership by example. This is the burden of leadership. It is proof that you understand the responsibility you have as a leader and the burden placed on you. When you lead by example, you build credibility and gain respect. Live up to the responsibility of your leadership position and be a role model for others. Earning respect requires that one must be able to take the right decisions, even if the cost means being labelled negatively or being seen as unpopular. If you want to be popular you will do things that please people in the short term, but someone who wants to be respected will think of the long term and do the difficult things that are required even if people don’t immediately understand or accept them. In the year ahead be prepared to do what is right no matter the cost.
Remember that we all have the potential to be leaders because we each have a sphere of influence. As you go forward to 2022, I pray for God’s peace and guidance for you, and may your dreams be fulfilled as you reach for them!
Thank you and until next year, let me challenge you to begin to lead from where you are.