Happy New Year to all! As we enter into 2017, I came across a post from my mentor John Maxwell that if quite timely in my opinion. As leaders, sometimes we have plans and goals that carry over into the next year, yet we may have lost some momentum during the last few weeks or months of the year before.
As he says in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, momentum is a leader’s best friend. “When you have no momentum, even the simplest tasks seem impossible. Small problems look like insurmountable obstacles. Morale becomes low.”
When momentum has slowed, it can be regained through the influence of leaders who are determined to move their teams forward in spite of the present challenges.
As any cyclist can attest, the difficulty of a race depends largely on the terrain. The strenuous challenge of peddling up a mountainside exhausts a rider, but the thrill of cruising downhill requires little to no energy at all. Wind also factors into a cyclist’s journey. Driving into a howling headwind saps a cyclist’s strength, while a friendly tailwind makes the ride much easier.
Momentum functions for a leader much like the wind and terrain do for a cyclist. With the advantage of momentum, financial results come effortlessly, opportunities abound, and growth happens naturally.
Facing an uphill struggle, what can leaders do to recapture momentum?
  1. Focus on the seeds you sow rather than the harvest you reap

    Farmers can’t control the weather, but they can control the care and attention with which they plant and cultivate crops. Sooner or later, if they sow diligently, the weather will comply and a prosperous harvest will be gathered.

    To resurrect momentum, prioritize effort and don’t get caught looking at end results. Find the intrinsic satisfaction of doing an honest day’s work and improving in your chosen field. Make consistent contributions in your personal growth and development. Even if results don’t come immediately, you’ll position yourself for future gain.

  2. Keep hope alive

    Have you ever watched a sports competition and seen the team that’s behind on the scoreboard give up? Already defeated in their minds, they quit playing hard. In doing so, they give themselves no chance of rallying for victory.

    When business slumps, people are tense, emotions are frayed, and bad news quickly escalates into panic. Overhanging worry and stress tempt people to abandon hope. As a leader, your circumstances may be grim but your face doesn’t have to be. Smile and be upbeat. Give encouragement. Look for successes to celebrate. Inject humor into the mood of meetings and into conversations. Above all, don’t whine and complain or tolerate defeatism in the attitudes of those you lead. People are relying on you to jump start momentum in your organization, and your response to adversity can set the tone for everyone on the team.

  3. Foster unity

    When you’re winning, relational problems can be glossed over, but when times are tough the fissures between people are exposed. If you’re trying to regroup your team, nothing extinguishes the spark of momentum like infighting. As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

    Before you can build momentum as a team, you have to iron out relationships. This means working through conflict until you reach a place of resolution and mutual respect. For a leader, it also entails using communication to link unity with survival. Teammates must be told, in no uncertain terms, that the future success of the organization depends upon their ability to pull together.

There are no rally caps in the business world. No magic dominoes either. The only place momentum will begin is with the influence of leaders who are determined to move their teams forward in spite of the present challenges.
If you have recognized this as a challenge you are currently facing as we enter 2017, you can get a jump start on recapturing momentum on your team. Consider the following:
  1. Maybe you would benefit from having a coach walk alongside you, acting as a catalyst to generate new ideas and insights that will recapture stalled momentum.
  1. Maybe you and your team would benefit from a fresh look at the year ahead in a setting that generates focus, teamwork, commitment and accountability. This will definitely invigorate the team and rekindle stalled momentum. After all, it takes teamwork to make the dream work.
  1. Maybe you and your team would benefit from having tools and techniques available to them to build trust and have healthy conflict – be able to address  negative under currents and unresolved conflicts
If any of the above are of interest, let me know. I have helped hundreds of people and teams address and overcome the issues that stall momentum.
Best wishes for a growth oriented and highly productive New Year!
Bill
PS, the post I referred to by John Maxwell can be found at The John Maxwell Co. website.