Good Leaders Don’t Waste Downtime – 4 Things to Do in December

In August, we spoke at 28 different events. In September we spoke at 13, and in December we spoke at 0. Some might look at December and think of it as a chance to exhale from the never ending travel and speaking that happened in the Fall. But as the CEO of Swift Kick, I use December as a time to put on my Owner’s Hat and spend the month queuing things up for 2019. This is a time for strategic planning. This morning, I presented my high level 2019 vision for Swift Kick to get my team’s feedback, as well as build alignment.

“Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there.” – John P. Kotter

It took me at least 14 hours over the past two weeks to prepare for our 2019 Vision Meeting. That’s on top of the countless hours put in during prior months to keep all our data clean and up-to-date. In our meeting, we covered these three areas:

1) Yearly Theme

Pick one theme that covers the whole year that helps guide the team in a specific direction. In 2018, our theme was ” Do less, better.” That meant we reduced the amount of stuff we were doing and made what was left better.

2) Top Four Projects

Out of everything that we could do, what are our most important goals to work on? For 2019, our most important goals are:

  • Our Dance Floor Theory Book
  • Branded Trainings Portfolio
  • Corporate Speaking Expansion
  • 20% Revenue Growth

3) Metrics Review (Past and Future) 

We took time to review and reflect on changes in key metrics from 2017 through 2020. The goal is to be transparent with each other on what is working and what’s not working. For example, in August of 2018 we actually had less revenue than in 2017. In digging into the reason, we found that one large contract we had last year didn’t renew and that hurt our overall revenue.

4) Expenses Review (Past and Future)

Being a stable company means managing our expenses in a healthy way, while growing our revenue. We are constantly reviewing our expenses to keep them as low as possible to cut waste. Having the team in on these conversations keeps them just as accountable as me in keeping our company’s balance sheet healthy.

Only 10% of organizations achieve at least two-thirds of their strategic objectives, with 36% achieving between 50%-67%, and 54% achieving less than 50%. I’m proud to say that Swift Kick is in the top 10% bucket because we achieved over 80% of all the goals/projects we set out to do in 2018.

Strategic planning for the year is the first step, because without quarterly, monthly, and weekly follow up plans in place, the strategy will quickly fall apart. It’s sad to read stats about how 85% of leadership teams spend less than 1 hour per month discussing strategy. As we’ve outlined in prior posts, the Swift Kick team has one full day quarterly retreat, a two hour monthly metrics meeting, a 90 minute weekly planning meeting, and a 20 minute daily huddle.

As the CEO, or team leader, it might be really easy to think of times like December as downtime when you can kick back and relax. But it’s also the perfect time to get your strategy lined up for when things get going again. As I tell my team, make sure you shoes are tied before you start the race.

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