A Year in Review; A Year to Look Forward to

2019 is all but over. Like every year that has gone before, there are highlights and opportunities (either seized upon or missed) for development.

Most of all, with the close of one year, another approaches; laden with the chance to do things differently, especially in light of all that we would have learned over the preceding 12 months.

(Full disclosure: When we started this journey (way back in January), and we set out to explore a number of themes and issues as they relate to leadership, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development, my original intention was to share some of my experiences and learning with as many as I can and explore viable ways of working together to strengthen leaders and to redefine the concept of leadership.)

Funny how much can change in a year…

Hearing from you about new ideas you got off the ground and personal experiences along the way, I quickly realised that how I began this blog series would not be the way I would close off for the year. It could not be.

For starters, it became more than just an exploratory conversation about sharing insights. Along the way, we discussed, shared, and connected. We looked at new and engaging ways of reimagining the entrepreneur, finding our leadership centres, and revitalising the role of integrity in being an excellent leader.

While those issues are not necessarily new to any conversation about leadership, our individual experiences and stories have made those lessons resonate deeply and have contributed tremendously to changing the leadership narrative in unimagined ways. Certainly, in ways that I could not have anticipated.

This is why my last blog for 2019 begins with a heartfelt “Thank You.” Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. Thank you for building with me in enlightening, informing, and redefining the concept of leadership. Above all, thank you for deciding to take this journey as we look forward in keeping that momentum for 2020. So, as we reflect on what we shared over the course of a year, we look forward to what we will build upon in championing leadership in the year 2020 and beyond.

Embrace Change

Change is all around us. Without exception, one of the defining hallmarks of the 21st Century is the rapid rate of change that has affected every person, in every community, in every nation across the globe. Not only were these changes widespread, they were profound. Whether economic, political, social, or cultural, the world did not sit still in 2019 and with every development that took place, there seemed to be no shortage of attendant changes catalysed in turn by the preceding one.

So if change is always on the menu, leaders must learn how to tailor their appetite and attitudes toward it.

It’s definitely a brave new world that awaits brave new leaders. Rather than being afraid of change, we learned that the leaders of tomorrow must embrace it; they must welcome it and the challenges it brings. Moreover, they must seize each change as an opportunity to be better, to serve better, and to do better.

Be Optimistic, Be Curious, Be Hungry

In the face of all this change around us, constants still apply. Optimism, Curiosity and The Hunger to Succeed are going to be more critical in the years to come than ever before.

Sadly, it’s too easy to look at the world around us, even within our respective organisations, in an attempt to navigate an uncertain landscape, and become dismayed at either how quickly things are changing or how less in our favour they are changing.

Therefore, the main challenge facing every leader is how to always maintain a high level of self-awareness; to understand that while change is taking place, optimism, curiosity, and the hunger to succeed will always serve us well in navigating the change around us.

We must know who we are as leaders, understand what it is that has got us there, and never dim that fire within despite all that is going on around us.

…But Be Prepared

Yes, those three virtues will serve the leader well in the face of a rapidly changing world, but it will also take hard work and preparation to make that success sustainable.

Preparation is not only the key to successfully starting, running, and leading your teams, it is also a good strategy for life in general.

We’re so often encouraged to be the change we wish to see in the world, that we forget that we must also be prepared for what that requires of us and likewise be prepared to make the most of that change.

Leaders of tomorrow should make it their goal to never ignore the wealth of information and experiences that surrounds them, to listen and learn at every opportunity, and most of all, to remain as mentally flexible and prepared to change as possible.

Help Others Along the Way

Finally, a quiet word for Compassion, which arguably may not be the first leadership characteristic we think of when it comes to excellence in leadership. It is quiet but it is there. And it is critical.

Compassion is that basic human connection that comes about when leaders, when people, can truly understand the challenges that others face. Our teams, our customers, our friends and families, our fellow human beings, these are the people we as leaders have committed to serve and with every decision we make, we must always be mindful of the commitment we have made.

Understanding the role of compassion in leadership is a proven method to unlocking the power of people we lead.

Compassionate leadership is inspirational leadership.

By tapping into that understanding and appreciation of others, we can then inspire compassion in them and those who look up to us, who will in turn demonstrate and inspire it in others.

More than simply “paying it forward”, compassionate leadership is an investment. It is an investment in the future with the dividends being more people doing right by and helping others – a trait that we can all agree is (and will be) needed more than ever before.

A Year in Review; A Year to Look Forward To

2019 has indeed been quite a year.

As so many of us take this time to get ready for the Holiday season, calling to mind thoughts of “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All”, so too would I like to encourage us all (leaders and aspiring leaders alike) to persevere in the journey that we have started together.

We have had an encouraging 2019. Let’s continue to challenge; continue to innovate; continue to dream; continue to soar. Let’s continue to lead and inspire.

So, from my friends, family and organisation to yours, Happy Holidays and our sincerest hopes for a bright and prosperous 2020. We may not know what the future holds but as leaders, let us commit to shaping it the best way we possibly can.

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