The first couple of weeks of September come with lots of intensity for many people!
There is subtle (or direct) pressure to finish important projects and initiatives, and to “knock it out of the park” with all the goals you have set as a team and as an individual.
And for many people I know, this pressure is combined with the feeling that - while summer was great - it didn’t quite come with the recharge they had hoped for.
As a leader, you likely have high-achieving tendencies and want to do it all. The start of fall is a great opportunity for you to set the tone for what successful AND sustainable performance looks like.
Sustainable performance is a mindset shift that I invite my high-achieving coaching clients to consider: one where we move from striving to reach ALL the goals (at ALL costs), to reaching the most important goals, which includes both business results and personal wellbeing. So, how can you re-energize your team to prioritize both business results and personal wellbeing? I have some ideas:
1. Do a “battery check” to assess the energy levels - What does this mean? It means checking in with team members (and yourself), in a meaningful way, to see how they are doing and where their energy levels are.
This DOES NOT sound like:
Leader: “How are you doing?” Team member: “Fine, everything is great” Leader: “Great!”
This DOES sound like:
"We are 3/4s of the way through a really busy year and have have had many different competing priorities and changing directions. How are you really doing in terms of your workload and overall energy levels? What is the one thing I can do to best support you in executing on your results and having a sense of work/life integration during these last 4 months?”
2. Get the FULL picture by connecting with those you don’t always / easily connect with - There are people on your team that you probably have an easy working relationship with. Maybe you have similarities and you just “click”. Perhaps you work in the same office and everyone else is remote so you have more face time. Because your relationships are easier, you probably hear from them more. If so, its common to unintentionally over-index on their viewpoints.
Who are the people you speak to less frequently? Make a list, pick up the phone (video call), and create the conditions for a meaningful and honest conversation about how they are doing. This effort will give you a fuller, less biased, perspective of your entire team.
3. Revisit and revise your annual or quarterly goals - Many leadership teams are overly-aggressive about what can be achieved in a quarter or in a year. This makes sense, being high-achievers and all. They make a list of 10 “priority” initiatives - then the unexpected happens - a key team member resigns and restructuring occurs, the board or executive committee pivots the strategy, the software implementation didn’t go quite as smooth as expected, resulting in people’s time and energy being expended elsewhere.
While we may WANT to do “all the things”, its also pretty demotivating to teams to feel that they are never actually achieving everything they you set out to achieve.
Now is the time to review your goals and do some “good enough” goal setting. What is a true priority and deserves your team’s full focus and attention until the end of the year? What can be removed from the list, or re-prioritized for a different time? As a leader, its imperative that you are helping your team determine what the true priorities are given changes in demands and resources.
4. Create momentum by celebrating the progress thus far - A common theme with high-achievers is that we don’t celebrate enough. We achieve, win and move on to the next thing. Celebrating is not just about feeling good (although I’d argue people feeling good is a pretty good outcome). Celebrating is also about creating the momentum, confidence, goodwill and energy that will lead to more results. Did you know that as humans, its much more motivating for us to celebrate small wins than to have massive goals that are too far or big for us to even comprehend?
Ask yourself what you can you do to break down the your team’s progress this year, and to celebrate all those “small” wins.
5. LIVE the example of the high-performance leader who cares about wellbeing - “You have to see it to be it”. Leaders - intentionally or not - set the tone and example for those that are looking up to them. Consider how you can set a good example of being a results-based leader, who also cares about wellbeing.
Can you model and get loud about booking your vacation in advance, creating “deep work” days, revisiting goals as priorities shift, having boundaries of always taking lunch, doing daily micro-breaks that include a walk?
The fall comes with lots of pressure to “do more” - as a leader, you have a powerful opportunity to send a message of care, and set an example of the professional skillset of having behaviors that allow for sustainable performance.
If you need some help with supporting your leadership team, DM me.