December 17, 2020

TPL Insights: Building Peak-Performance Cultures #46 – Stakeholder Engagement: Six Ways to Finish Strong in 2020!

By Rob Andrews


By Rob Andrews with paraphrased content from Lolly Daskal’s November 2, 2020 article in Inc. Magazine

What a year! A global pandemic none of us saw coming, knew how to deal with, or knew what to expect as a result. Racial unrest at a level we haven’t seen in fifty years. Remote work for much of the global workforce. Economic insecurity at a level we’ve not seen in decades. A political cycle so bizarre many of us wonder if we’re still living in the United States. With all the crap we’ve been through this year, it’s perfectly natural to want to curl up in a fetal position and hope for better times.

Surrounded with forward-thinking, peak performing possibility thinkers, I am reminded that shutting down or retreating will not help. As a matter of fact, it could be fatal to your business, career, or life overall. So much of success in life is about mindset. Hunkering down and hoping for better days is a key ingredient in the recipe for a mediocre 2021 and beyond.

My colleagues and advisors say the best way to set the stage for a successful 2021 is to be on offense. Build momentum during the last few weeks of the year and the first few weeks of 2021, while most of your competition is recovering from hangovers or limping into the new year with timidity, burnout, and reticence. In other words, when half of your competitors have quit or quit trying, there’s more business out there than ever before. There has been no better time than right now to commit to a record-breaking 2021. Here are some nuggets I hope will help.

  1. Assess and Reflect

People find out what they’re made of during crisis—and 2020 provided a plethora of learning opportunities. Unfortunately, most people were so busy getting by that they didn’t take time to reflect on what they learned. One of my CEO buddies who runs a wildly successful midsized engineering firm says that while he certainly wouldn’t want to repeat 2020, it’s viewed as an opportunity to get better. He goes on to say that this is an optimal time to reassess and reflect, particularly for those who assumed new responsibilities amid layoffs and restructuring. In his firm, he and his team say they’re ending 2020 on a high note, principally because of what they’ve discovered. During the last half of 2020, his leadership team has reexamined and realigned about the company’s purpose, mission, values, and strategy. They’ve recognized the need for better diversity and inclusion and begun to make plans to transform themselves. Unable to avoid furloughing 12% of their workforce, they’ve assessed their organization, identified high potentials, and polished up their objectives and key results. They’re excited about 2021 and beyond.

  1. Take Inventory

Whereas taking stock is about uncovering motivations and drivers, taking inventory is about cataloging and celebrating your past and current accomplishments. Make a list of your major wins, the role you played, and the outcome. Think about it like preparing for a presentation to Shark Tank. Chances are you’re a major league superstar and the events of 2020 have temporarily robbed you of your mojo. One of my clients did a whiteboard session with his team and listed every significant team win over the last few years. After the corporate inventory was taken, a facilitator focused on one member at a time, and every leader served up important contributions attributed to each member in the spotlight at the time. Every member of the team walked out of the room re-energized, realigned, and recommitted to a record 2021.      

  1. Commit to Improve Organizational Health

Now this might sound a little too much like a New Year’s resolution, but it’s a great way to infuse purpose and excitement into a team that’s suffering from 2020 PTSD. Organizations we’ve studied for decades that perform at the very top of their sectors are committed to optimal cultural health. They measure their cultural and organizational health, much the same way an internist measures each patient’s physical health. A CEO and his or her leadership team that declares a commitment to optimal cultural health and puts systems in place to track their progress sends a strong signal to the organization that they’re focused on the long term and optimistic about the future.   

  1. Declare a Winning Mindset

Doskall reminds us that when you allow yourself to doubt you’ll ever be able to win again, you’re setting yourself up for the very failure you fear the most. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re trying to reverse your mindset, so try focusing on doing small things well. You don’t have to take on the world–just complete one small task with focus and excellence. That small win can help restore your confidence. And if you repeat it, again and again, one step at a time, suddenly you will have managed what may have felt unmanageable.  Sometimes you may feel like you’re stuck in cement. Nothing you try seems to work. But have you been trying new things, or just variations on the same things that you already know don’t work? To shift your perspective and regain your mojo, try doing old things in new ways. And that means changing the way you look at things. Changing your view and your perspective can help you find new solutions and new confidence.

  1. Stay Far Away from Negativity

Lolly goes on to say that when things are going wrong and you find yourself feeling challenged, a negative attitude is an understandable development. From there, it’s a short jump to engaging in destructive behavior and spending time with people who fuel your negativity and cynicism, and things can quickly spiral out of control. If you are serious about getting back on track you must stay away from negative thinking, negative people, and negative circumstances. Surround yourself with positivity and encouragement.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Especially when you’re down, you may judge yourself harshly and speak internally to yourself in terrible ways that you’d never use with anyone else. You can reverse abusive self-talk with the SOS technique: Stop negative thoughts in their tracks to interrupt the cycle, Observe what you are saying to yourself and how it’s making you feel, Shift your cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response by using positive coping skills and techniques.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

Doskall also reminds us that If there’s anything good about temporarily losing your mojo, it’s that it can help you break the cycle of having to know everything, do everything, and be entirely self-reliant. Sometimes the simplest act of asking for help can be the biggest booster in getting your mojo back. Speaking with someone can help you remember who you really are, and it can remind you that even the smartest, the most successful, most accomplished people need the assistance and support of others. If you really want to get back on the horse, work through some or all of these steps–and above all, stay focused on the present and future instead of the past.

Allen Austin exists to fulfill its purpose, which is to enhance the lives and effectiveness of our associates, clients, and stakeholders. Our solutions are focused on assisting clients in building cultures of peak performance, through our retained search and leadership advisory practices. Please give us a call if we may assist in any way, or if you’d just like a thought partner.

Warmest Regards,