Wrapping up the year - an opportunity for leaders and leadership
As we ‘wrap-up’ this year and look forward to the next, leaders at all levels, in both formal and informal leadership roles, have a useful opportunity for connecting with their team to celebrate achievements and flag things that are coming in the new year. It’s a chance for leaders to show a bit of who they are and how they lead, and what’s been important for them from their perspective. For their colleagues it’s an opportunity to see that they are part of something bigger – and that their contribution, from their role, is part of something bigger and highly impactful.
We all need this. It’s often seen as the soft and fluffy stuff … but when it’s done well, when it’s real, and when it’s truly driven by a sense of purpose and a sense of commitment to the team, it contributes to a strong and healthy work culture.
At a practical level, this end of year period is a chance for reflection, recognition and looking ahead. Leaders can share this work with others – and it’s a way of building strong culture.
The end of year period presents opportunities for:
- An end of year function (lunch, morning tea, dinner, picnic)\
- A last meeting for the year
- A last email or newsletter sent before the year ends
- Holiday season greetings, wishes or gifts
- Sharing goals and plans for the new year
This is an opportunity for leaders to take stock and to reflect on the achievements of the year. This year had a big to do list, and no matter how rough the year has been, there are very likely a few things that can now get ticked off. This is a huge achievement. And this provides an opportunity to say thank you. To acknowledge the hard work and commitment of your team and share with them some of the things you are thinking about for the next year.
This important leadership work of reflecting, recognising, celebrating and looking ahead:
- Contains and holds the team – Having our work seen and recognised is satisfying, engaging and motivating. It is also containing to have someone reflect on the achievements of the year and connect to how they will be built on in the year ahead.
Shows recognition and care – To be seen as part of a team; a collection of people with a shared focus and purpose at work is nurturing; we are seen as individual contributors and part of a team that can achieve more than any one person acting alone.
Builds inclusion and belonging – It is also helpful to be seen as part of a team - sharing in the achievement and being included in thinking and planning for next year and the future.
Shares and creates transparency in the strategic thinking and planning that leaders do as part of their role.
What are some of the leadership skills involved in this work?
- Seeing the big picture - Looking back on the year and forward to the next, while seeing all involved in the team effort.
- Building a team culture – Setting the norms, expectations, roles and recognition of work – the care, motivation and effort involved in doing this important work.
- Interpersonal and team and interpersonal communication – Taking some time for one-on-one check-ins and professional conversations with colleagues and also for team meetings. Both contexts provide opportunities to strengthen professional relationships and to choose to talk about the things that are important in the delivery of patient care and in organising for this collaborative work.
- Gratitude – Saying thank you and acknowledging the effort behind the work done.
- Clarity and identity around leadership role – Taking up this leadership work, on behalf of self, others and on behalf of the service.
Having said this I acknowledge that everyone is busy – workloads are high, and everyone is stretched. However, the intention is not to add stress to this situation. Indeed, there may not be time or resources to do this this year, and that is perfectly okay. There may be some time to do a small thing or two as the year wraps up. Just holding these ideas in mind can also help enable you to incorporate some small actions into your week’s routine. For example, as you send an email, meet someone in the hallway or online – take that extra minute and presence of mind to say, “hey thank you for everything this year – I wish you and your family all the best over the holiday season”. That can be enough, and for all busy leaders it’s important to be content from time to time with being “good enough”.
The act of leadership is to see the big picture and to build a culture that grows a service and the people who work in it. Often these acts of leadership are small, sometimes even micro acts: Of conversations, emails, eye contact and greetings, meetings, shared agendas, planning and decision-making, and saying thank you. A strong work culture is strong because it’s built on, and by, these small, reliable, trusting acts. Go forth and build culture, little by little as you see this year out and get into the next one well.
Dr Anna Clark (PhD)
Dr Anna Clark is AMAVs Leadership consultant, coach and educator, currently offering individual coaching for doctors and directing the AMA’s professional development programs in leadership, the Emerging Leader Program and Middle Leader Program. The Leadership Insights series can be found here.