2014: Home-stretch thoughts

December 1, 2014 | By Neil Ducoff | 2 Comments

home_stretchToday is the first day of the last month of 2014. So far, you have eleven months of business in the history book this year. You’ve eaten your Thanksgiving feast. The craziness of the Holiday season is officially underway. The time for implementing change and course corrections is behind you. Your company is either prepared to make the most of this final month, or it is not. All you can see ahead of you is the mad dash to New Year’s Eve and the welcoming of a fresh new year of opportunity called 2015.

This is a transitional time of year, good for both reflection and forward thinking. At this point, you’ve had your successes and failures. You’ve had initiatives that went sideways. You’ve said “good bye” to some old employees and welcomed in some new ones. You’ve hit your goals and missed your goals. You’ve loved your job … and there were times when you’ve hated your job. And on January 1, 2015, your Profit & Loss Statement revenues will revert back to zero and the endless process of leading your business will start all over again. The question to ponder now is … what do you want to change in 2015?

Here are my ten No-Compromise home-stretch thoughts:

  1. Managing your batteries: Running a company can drain your physical and emotional batteries to the point where you feel leadership fatigue … or even worse – total burnout. You’re not a superhero with superpowers; you’re a human being with real life limitations. Stress is a part of leadership, and comes in the form of making tough decisions, doing work that pushes you outside of your comfort zones, dealing with employee stuff, and feeling the weight of ever-present financial pressures. THOUGHTS: What do you need to change in your leadership work and workload? If you had to focus your attention on only high value work, what work would you have to let go?
  2. Evict the elephant: Every company has an elephant or two hanging around and getting in the way. Making friends with your elephant is a compromise and only gives you a bigger, tougher elephant that you will eventually be forced to evict. It’s gotta go. THOUGHTS: What is it costing you to feed the elephant in terms of drama, culture contamination and lost revenue? What’s the worst that could happen if you evicted the elephant? What opportunities would an elephant eviction create? When are you going to serve the eviction notice?
  3. Deal with debt: Debt is 100% super-concentrated business drag. A company simply cannot gain speed or progress to a goal when it’s dragging a load of debt. Credit card debt is the worst. THOUGHTS: If your debt load is too heavy (meaning your monthly payments are draining your cash reserves), what’s your plan to get your debt to a manageable level? If your payroll costs are too high, what’s your plan to fix them? If spending is out of control and inventory purchases are not within budget, what’s the plan to reign it all in? If you’re not sure how to get your expenses and your debt under control, ask for help.
  4. Get your “balance”: If you’re all work and no play, you really need to rethink how you manage your time. Personal time management is a discipline. I’ve coached many leaders that work 60 to 100 hours a week being grossly inefficient and wasting time at the expense of both their family and personal wellbeing. THOUGHTS: Leaders should be working on high value items – not low-level stuff that could be delegated. What’s your plan to work more efficiently and effectively to recapture time for you? What’s your plan to prevent others from putting their “monkeys” on your back?
  5. Tune-up your “voice”: When employees start saying, “All you care about are the numbers,” or, “Whatever we do is never good enough,” your leadership voice needs a tune-up. As a leader, your voice is the voice of the company. How you communicate, both verbally and through body language, speaks volumes about your state of mind, sense of urgency and stress level. In your effort to make sales, cut expenses, boost productivity and improve quality, your “leadership voice” could actually be wrecking morale and fragmenting your culture. THOUGHTS: What disciplines are you practicing to ensure your intent is clear? What disciplines are you practicing to ensure that the best leader in you is showing up every day … and not someone that resembles Darth Vader, leader of the Dark Side?
  6. Passion’s spark: If there is one thing I hope I never lose, it is my passion for the work I do. I love what I do, and yes, there are times when frustration tries to get the best of me … but my passion quickly regains the upper hand. The day “work becomes work”, I will retire. All entrepreneurial leaders have a little spark of passion in their eyes that keeps them going when others quit. Passion’s spark is precious and you must always protect it from being extinguished. THOUGHTS: If your spark is threatened and your passion is hanging on by a thread, what’s your plan to get back on track? What exactly is snuffing out your spark and sapping your enthusiasm? What are you going to do today, tomorrow, this month … and next year … to fuel your passion?
  7. Clarity takes work: The first tenet of No-Compromise Leadership is to have absolute clarity on where you are taking your company. No one fights for a vision that sounds like, “Do more,” or, “We’re heading in that general direction.” People fight for and bring their best game to achieve an objective that is worthy and specific. If you can’t describe your vision, goals, objectives and change initiatives in high-definition detail … then you haven’t put the effort in to achieving absolute clarity. THOUGHTS: Can you describe where you’re taking your company in a way that inspires others to go on that journey with you? If not, you’ve got work to do.
  8. Live your hype: It is dangerous for any company to buy so heavily into its own hype that it can no longer see its flaws, inconsistencies and compromises. Think of it as your company’s “promise to the customer” in terms of attention to detail, excellence and consistency. You either deliver on your promise or you don’t. Hype is like whiffle dust – it has little substance and disappears with a puff of air. THOUGHTS: What are you doing to reconnect with your values and commitment to excellence? When was the last time you and your team defined … with absolute clarity … your company’s promise to the customer?
  9. Everyone wants to win: When a leader becomes cynical, the company’s culture begins its slide into mediocrity. THOUGHTS: What makes you think your employees don’t want to win as badly as you? What makes you think they don’t care? As the leader, what do you own in this toxic mess?
  10. Twelve months from now: 2015 will arrive in 31 days. It will only contain 12 months … 52 weeks … 365 days. It can be a year of extraordinary growth, seized opportunities and the euphoria that comes with success … or, you can drag everything you don’t like from 2014 into the New Year and squander your opportunities. THOUGHTS: Where do you want your company to be on December 31, 2015?

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Categories: Business Builders , Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership

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  1. Evict the elephant! What a fabulous way of saying clean house!

    I terminated my receptionist, manager and a stylist 3 days before Christmas. It was a very Merry Holiday season after all and The salon took off in the New Year without the elephants.

    Good-bye elephants.

  2. You gave me a good laugh at the end of the day. Congrats!!

    I hope you saved their tusks!!! 🙂 They’re worth a lot of money. It’s the rest of the elephant you don’t need.



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