You’re leading a fighter pilot squadron on a high-stakes, time-sensitive mission. Your time is almost up, but the squadron still hasn’t achieved their objective. What happens next depends largely on the choices you make – on what kind of leader you decide to be.
What do you do?
Whether in fighter pilot missions or in business, too many leaders see the final moments of a mission as a time for winding down. Even if they don’t expect to hit their Mission Objective, they make peace with the expected miss, and let their momentum carry them across the finish line.
This is a mistake. The end of the year is a time to step up as a leader, even – and especially – if you’ve hit setbacks and are not currently tracking to hit your goal. Here are five skills you’ll need to be able to apply during this high-pressure moment, so you can lead your team to success.
This article is part of our new guide on how teams can make up lost ground and hit their goal before the end of the year. Get the complete guide here.
Making up lost ground at the end of the year requires adhering to a specific set of protocols and best practices. You need to triage your pipeline by reallocating your efforts to high-potential opportunities. You need to shift to a self-gen-based approach to building new pipeline. Pulling this off depends on your ability to communicate with your reps with clarity and precision, so that they know exactly what the plan is and can hit the ground running.
Your communication skills will also serve to give your reps the critical motivation they need to up-level their performance from now through the end of the year. If you can paint a clear picture of the path to success and how their efforts contribute to it, they’ll be that much more driven to succeed.
It’s not just your reps who need motivation in the Q4 crunch. You, as their leader, need to be motivated as well. And nothing harms motivation more than a lack of confidence in your team’s ability to succeed.
Self-fulfilling prophecies are real in missions of all kinds, from the military to the business world. In times like these, it’s critical to tune out the naysayers – including and especially the ones in your own head – and to believe that success is attainable. If you can confront the task ahead with confidence, as daunting as it may be, then that confidence will trickle down to your team members and give you the best possible chance of attaining your Mission Objective.
3. Decisiveness under pressure
The pressure is never higher than when the end of the year is in sight and you’re behind on revenue. That kind of pressure can be incredibly distracting. And it’s not the only source of distraction – the economic turbulence of the past year has been chaotic for businesses, and that chaos has made it hard to stay focused on the task at hand.
In this environment, one of the most valuable skills you can possess as a leader is a strong decisiveness that can hold firm even amid all the pressure and distractions you’re facing. Every moment you spend fretting is a moment you don’t spend making critical go/no-go decisions and providing your team with the guidance they need as they work to hit your number before the year ends.
Micromanagement is something of a dirty word in business – and the end of the year is no exception. When your team is in a sprint to close the year on a revenue high note, the last thing they need is a leader who slows things down with superfluous check-ins and an excessive, strict reliance on protocol.
But that doesn’t mean you should be completely hands-off, either. In moments like these, the best leaders know how to step back and let their team execute while still being responsive and available when someone does, in fact, need support.
When the pressure is on, teams need to make some unorthodox decisions in order to hit goal. This can bring scrutiny from executive leadership and the C-Suite. Your team may need a leader who can act as a screen between the people applying the pressure and the people feeling it. And remember: This latter group includes you personally. As a leader, in the event of a revenue miss, it will be up to you to give the C-Suite a detailed, 360-understanding of the challenges your team was contending with, and what you did to address them.
Advocating for your team, and yourself, without being adversarial toward your own superiors can be a delicate line to walk. If you can walk that line, you’ll give your reps the cover they need to execute without distractions, and defend yourself against the harshest consequences of missing your goal.
At Afterburner’s workshops and other events, leaders and their teams build the skills necessary to align around their Mission Objective and get their revenue engine roaring at the end of the year. Get in touch to learn more.