2022: Leadership Lessons I Learnt

Did we have a good year? 

That’s the question I put to my business partner Greg Allnutt on the 16th of December 2022 at our team function as we shared a number of Central Otago Pinot Noirs.

It might be an odd question and although I knew it had been a good year, we were both exhausted that afternoon and eager to start a 4 week summer break.

The year had screamed past in a blur for all of us at Pivot & Pace!

We have grown our business & our team, launched a new service into the market, invested in ongoing learning & education, sponsorships, grown partnerships with other like minded professional organisations & focussed relentlessly on helping our clients to grow, evolve, change…..to get break throughs. 

The outcome was a range of client metrics & client successes we are proud of. A lot of work but upon reflection fun work, challenging work and meaningful work. It has been a year of leading change, planning, supporting governance and business restructures, being involved in funding/capital raises, business sales & merges, innovation projects, training, coaching, learning, studying, collaborating, facilitating, networking and at times counselling. As a company and team we made definitely a big impact in 2022!

As I reflect, there were times I felt overwhelmed at the amount of work and complexity of it, It seemed far more serious than other years and sometimes I felt quite isolated given the amount of travel and the requirement to work alone away from the office and team support. I know that many directors and CEO’s have felt the same way and in reality it was year 3 of the covid pandemic & there are a myriad of other converging uncertainty we face in the business world.

In fact many executive teams and individuals reported feeling exhausted mid year and again in October and many were like me…..eagerly anticipating a good summer break.

What leadership lessons did I learn? I looked back over my reflections journal and there are many, many learnings. Here are my top 5 big ones.

  1. Leadership is not a popularity contest. Not a new learning but perhaps a good reminder. Not everyone will like you, your approach, your decisions or how you do it….. & that’s ok. There have been a number of times I have had to stop, reflect, challenge my thinking, reflect on values and either change or be comfortable that it is OK. Moral courage, a documented leadership philosophy and values have paid dividends in time of constant change & lots of ambiguity. Lead yourself well before expecting to do well in other areas of leadership. Remain humble, always seek to be better & don’t take yourself too seriously!
  2. When you care you give a bit of yourself. When woking closely with good leaders as their trusted adviser it is hard not to take on some of their stress. When dealing with complex issues at board and executive level & constant, ongoing change it takes a toll. The regular breaks, keeping fit and pursuit of personal interest are important to maintain and easy to skip. Plan and stay focussed.
  3. Be connected & Keep Learning. A network of mentors, like minded professionals, coaches, friends and family are critical for support & to keep you grounded, on track and to have a bit of fun. Success makes you soft (certainly it is a lousy teacher). Stay true to who you are and when things go off track – reflect, regroup and start again.
  4. We are in a period of ongoing and relentless change (& it is just beginning!). With that comes risk (for sure) but more importantly huge opportunities for those leaders and organisations that can remain agile, focussed and who have a long term vision. Disrupt Business as usual to ensure the important stuff is being implemented rather than just the next urgent thing. A ten year Vision allows you to adjust the strategy many times.
  5. Give back. Each year I work with a number of future leaders and organisations (for no pay) because I love their passion and potential. Some of these investments have paid huge dividends in terms of the impact it has made, the networks it has allowed me to join and the leaders who have gone on to do many things. Givers definitely get….in may ways. Serve with pride.

Always be prepared – Opportunities do not schedule appointments

Key personal achievements over the year;

  • Our business and team has grown. Those in the company have worked hard, contributed 100% and made an impact. 
  • Successfully completed a course of study at Harvard Business School in Disruptive Strategy.
  • It was my 18th year of self employment.
  • Professionally exited two boards as an independent director at the end of my tenure (EMD Advantage Ltd & Groundline Engineering Ltd) and joined two other boards (Oderings Garden Centres & The Connect Group Ltd).
  • As a company we launched the “Operational Leader Programme” which was developed at the request of client feedback. This is an extension of our Executive Leadership Programme.
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Gisbourne Bull sale week. Talking bull with the Chair of Angus New Zealand.

Some key personal stats over the year that I track annually; 

  • Completed 215 fitness/physical workouts. Averaged 32 minutes per day & 8725 steps per day across 2022.
  • Averaged 7 hours and 23 mins of sleep per night over the year.
  • Took 49 flights for work including 3 trips to Australia with clients.
  • Over 2022 I worked as a strategic adviser to 21 different executive leadership teams
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  • Worked on 9 boards of Directors (transitioning off 2 & being appointed to 2 more) and worked as a Strategic adviser/strategist to 9 other boards.
  • Across 2022 attended (as a director) 58 Board meetings chairing 23 of them
  • Facilitated 42 strategy sessions.
  • Facilitated 16 customised leadership workshops for various executive teams.
  • Delivered 211 one on one formal coaching sessions for 42 different Executive leaders.

2022 was a busy and professionally rewarding year.

Lean in! Today I begin the 2023 work year and all the opportunities it brings.

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