For most people and businesses, energy and focus differ as a matter of timing.
In the new year, the focus is on new beginnings. It is the time of year for New Years resolutions, organization, and for getting started on annual goals. With the focus comes high energy for “starting.”
In April, the energy starts to shift. This is where you begin to see graduations, weddings, and family vacations take the forefront. This ushers in a period of focus on relationships.
And in September, a renewed energy comes to punch through to year-end. Productivity is high and finishing initiatives takes precedence in minds and focus.
About the second week of November, the push to finish turns to wrapping up for the year and shifting into holiday, reflection, and cleanup modes.
What does this have to do with business, which is based more on four evenly spaced quarters?
Ask any business owner, and they will agree that they see this focus shift woven throughout the year. This is why it is important for leaders to understand this cycle of human nature and to work with it to their company’s advantage. Fighting it can have costly consequences.
For example, a few years back, a well-known and highly respected business leader decided to do a major marketing push the whole month of December. Without recognizing that this is a time for people naturally to pull back, this entrepreneur pushed hard – really hard – for people to take action. He piled on when people were trying to clean up. Daily emails, often several a day, all with the message to “push harder and do more” filled already overflowing inboxes.
Not only did people not take action, they pushed back en masse, unsubscribing from his mailing list in droves. They made comments on social media. The team worked through the holidays without a break, only to bear the brunt of the public sentiment for the badly timed marketing campaign. The business was deeply impacted, all because of bad timing.
Then there was the business leader whose team pushed hard early in the year to reach aggressive goals. The focus and energy were there; and the goals were completed, with exemplary results. Motivated by the first quarter success, the leader immediately began to push into the next set of very aggressive goals, with even more plans and ideas than the previous quarter.
Only, he did not stop to consider that a shift of energy had taken place within his team and among his customers.
The team had laid it all on the line, and their energy reserves were depleted. In addition, the seasonal energy was shifting toward more relationship-focused events. Year-end school events and the changes that go along with the shift from spring to summer were starting to unfold. While the team still showed up for work each day and was productive, the energy for a major initiative had faded just as the winter had turned to spring. But the leader insisted, pushing at the wrong time. And people quit. The projected income was replaced by the added cost of hiring and training several new team members.
It is often said that when it comes to business, “Time is money.” While that is true to an elemental degree, it is even more true that focus and energy applied to the Law of Timing will yield even more results.
Great leaders know that in business, focus and energy are everything. You can have people show up for 40 hours a week, but if they do not have focus and energy, there will be minimal results.
How can you, as a leader, energize your team?
Recognize the patterns of human nature.
Work with the natural patterns you see. If you know the focus and energy are going to be strong for new initiatives in January, work with your team to plan what those new initiatives will be. Then give them time to wrap up the year well and celebrate with a sense of accomplishment. This allows them to hit the ground running in the new year with a solid plan and renewed energy.
After the first quarter push, pause briefly and give your team time to regroup. This does not mean the work stops – it can’t – but it could mean including time for planning, administrative work, and cleanup to regroup for the next quarter.
If you are coming into the summer months, stop and think about your customers. What will they be doing? How can you support their focus during those months? Is it time for your business to focus on relationships? Should you run some fun marketing campaigns or focus on customer appreciation? Is there something you can offer that will help them enjoy the pace of summer and its activities rather than compete with it?
In the fall, your team will be ready to push hard toward the finish line. Plan ahead, be sure that finish line is well defined and communicated, and the team will be ready to do their part.
Knowing when to push and when to pause is essential for a leader.
Recognize the patterns of individuals.
What do your team members need to succeed at different times of the year? Do they need a challenge to keep them motivated or a slower pace to recharge for a few days after a major initiative? Athletes will tell you that interval workouts have great value. The push and pause create strength and endurance. If all they did was push to the max every single day, they would compromise their performance. Are you helping your team members gain strength and endurance or compromising their performance?
Not sure? Check your turnover rate.
Recognize the patterns of your customers or clients.
Depending on what you offer, there will be a natural ebb and flow of interests throughout the year. If you push into an ebb, it could be detrimental. But if you join in the flow, it is like catching a wave. Surfers know that timing is a critical element to success. You can go farther and faster with less effort if you watch the wave and catch it at just the right time.
Your choice as a leader: you can fight the wall of water or catch the wave.
The key takeaway is this. As a leader, watch for patterns of energy, focus, and timing, including your own. It has the potential to transform your life and business.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer, and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, and using the Maxwell Method, Deb helps leaders and teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results