How to Lead Your Team to a Strong Year-End Finish

We’re at the end of the line. Less than 15 days until the clock strikes midnight and we move from one year to the next. People are wrapping presents, wrapping up projects, and planning their time off for the holidays. I’m all for that. Work between vacations, right?

But we’re not there yet. We’ve still got work to do.

This is the time where we see the professionals separate from the amateurs and take the lead. It’s not a time to take your foot off the gas and coast through to New Year’s Eve. Nope. Time to dig deep and hold the line. Foot on the gas. It’s time to get dirty, push harder, and double and triple down on your effort.

That means you too, leaders. Perhaps you more than anyone. As a leader, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. And yes, sometimes that means being a little more aggressive than your typical M.O.

One of Jocko Willink’s dichotomies of leadership is: A leader must be aggressive but not overbearing. It’s a fine line to walk. You want your team to feel that you are approachable, and yet you must let them know that they aren’t going to pull one over one you. You are there to help them be the best version of themselves possible, to help them achieve their goals. If you have to get in their face and get a little aggressive to do that, so be it. Now, more than ever is the time. While other leaders and teams are pulling back and allowing their teams to slack, it’s your duty to continue to uphold your level of standards and help your team finish the year strong. Not for you. For them. So they can live the life they want. So they can make the income they want for themselves and their families. If you hold back, you’re only holding them back. They may not like you in the moment and that’s okay. They can hate you now, but they will thank you later. Be aggressive and hold the line.

The fourth quarter (specifically the last two weeks of the fourth quarter) are where the pros show up. The pros do not let excuses, the holidays, the market, the technology, the whatever to derail them from their goal. The pros show up and do the work, day in and day out.

A Professional Accepts No Excuses from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The amateur, underestimating Resistance’s cunning, permits the flu to keep him from his chapters; he believes the serpent’s voice in his head that says mailing off that manuscript is more important than doing the day’s work.

The professional has learned better. He respects Resistance. He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he’ll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow.

The professional knows that Resistance is like a telemarketer; if you so much as say hello you’re finished, the pro doesn’t even pick u the phone He stays at work.

There is probably no better example of someone who accepts no excuses then David Goggins. I just finished reading his book, Can’t Hurt Me, and this guy had to overcome some serious shit – childhood abuse, completing 3 rounds of Hell Week, once on broken legs, running ultra-marathons injured, multiple heart surgeries, and more. But instead of letting it derail him, he used it as fuel to continue to push through and become unstoppable.

What does this have to do with end of year goals? Everything. You have way more in you then you even know. When it gets hard and uncomfortable, that’s the time to make one more phone call, read on more page, do one more push-up. With each rep, you are training your mind to finish strong in everything you do. No limits. No excuses. No regrets.

As a leader, in times of stress, uncertainty, tight deadlines, and challenge, that’s the time to step up and lead from the front. Here’s how you can get down and dirty with your team: 

  1. ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES. If you still have the skills and expertise to do the work (sales calls, graphic design, customer service, etc.), get in and do the work. Make the calls, go on appointments, set appointments for your team, help the team get caught up on a few projects. The point here is to go from managing/leading to executing so that everyone can finish the year strong.
  2. TAKE OVER NON-DOLLAR PRODUCING TASKS. Maybe you’re skills are a bit rusty, that’s fine. How else can you shift the work load and help your team stay focused on those dollar producing activities? Perhaps you jump in and do some data entry, pull call sheets, draft contracts, or handle other miscellaneous administrative tasks. Whatever you do, streamline your team’s days so they are not bogged down with the minutia. It may only be temporary, but it might also be the small leverage your team needs to hit their goals and finish the year strong.
  3. BRING IN NEEDED RESOURCES. Are you in the midst of your busiest time of year? Do you need to bring in a few temporary staff members? Maybe you can outsource some of the day to day tasks. Maybe it’s a system or piece of technology that would make all the difference to your team’s productivity. Get it and get out of their way.
  4. SUPPORT YOUR TEAM. Be more visible then ever. How can you support your team so they can do their best work? Maybe you bring in someone to go do their holiday shopping for them, host a pizza night if they are late at the office grinding, or simply celebrating every single win – big or small. This extra push and support will bolster morale and get everyone through the long days.
  5. COACH AND TRAIN. Double down on coaching and training. Coach them through all live call, have team members shadow you on the appointments that you are going on for them, and get granular. This isn’t the time to talk about next year’s goals or to do a bunch of airy fairy inspirational talks. No. This is the time to tweak a few words in an email or change-up the opening line of a phone call.

I’m not any different. We’re currently aggressively looking for a team member to add to BlackRock Construction. Yes, we’ve got ads out and the team is screening candidates, but when we have a high priority hire such as this, sometimes those activities just aren’t enough. So, what did I do? I starting calling and texting all of my trusted business contacts to see who they knew that I should talk to. It didn’t take a lot of time, but it had a big impact and now I’ve got a couple of names of candidates who come highly recommended from reliable sources.

What are you going to do today and every day for the next two weeks to finish the year strong?

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