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Tim Arnold: A Leader’s Guide to a Thriving Holiday Season

Tim Arnold: A Leader’s Guide to a Thriving Holiday Season

The key to thriving this holiday season is to recognize the 12 tensions that are likely to pop-up around this busy time of the year. Leaders and teams are often in a tug-of-war, facing competing demands such as planning vs. action, structure vs. flexibility, change vs. stability, work vs. home, etc. And the holidays bring its own unique tensions to add to the mix.

Tim Arnold, a leadership and teambuilding expert, outlines the top 12 tensions leaders will likely face this holiday season. Understanding, planning for, and then properly managing these tensions will ensure that both you and your team have a fantastic holiday season and thrive in 2020.

1. Spending and Saving

The holidays are a time for generosity. Just like with your family celebrations, it can be fun to “go all out” with your workplace festivities too. However, you also need to make wise financial decisions that will be good for your organization long-term.

2. Work and Home

Year-end deadlines and countless holiday events add to your normal workload, which are compounded by the expectation that you make the most of the season with friends and family.  Perhaps more than any other time of year, finding work/life balance is especially important around the holiday season.

3. Preserve Tradition and Embrace Change

The holiday season is all about enjoying your favorite traditions with family, friends, and co-workers. However, this holiday season could also be a great opportunity to take risks and try something new. Knowing what to keep and what to change around the holidays requires some re-evaluation as a leader, and as always, listening to needs and wants of your team.

4. Structure and Flexibility

The holiday season is a time when we need to be flexible with our day-to-day work routines, to make space for parties, events, and year-end meetings. It’s also a time of year when leaders need to help their teams embrace the necessary focus and structure needed to stay the course with their work commitment and fourth-quarter expectations.

5. Freedom and Accountability

As leaders, the holidays are a good time to loosen up a little with team members, as the season is sure to bring its fair share of changes to workflows and team members’ schedules. It’s also an important time to provide clarity around the non-negotiable expectations of each team member, which could easily be forgotten in the frenzy of the season.

6. Task Focused and Relationship Oriented

The holiday season can quickly amount to a lengthy “to-do” list. There are parties to plan, presents to buy, projects to wrap up, and schedules to manage. At the same time, it’s the time of year, more than any other, when we want to lead in a way that models compassion and attentiveness.

7. Care for Self and Care for Others

The holiday season is all about focusing on the needs of others. We give gifts to friends and family, carve out time for those we care about, and often step up our charitable giving and volunteering. It’s also a time, however, when we must be sure to focus on self-care. Doing so will ensure that we sustain the energy, health and spirit we need to keep a legitimate smile on our face.

8. Purpose and Profit

As a leader, the holidays are a perfect time to revisit your values and ensure your organization’s work aligns with its mission and vision. It is also a time to crunch the numbers and make sure you are delivering a healthy bottom line as you move into the new year.

9. Local and Global

The holiday season is a great time to give back to your community and get involved in local celebrations. However, there are also a lot of ways you can think beyond your backyard and add a global perspective to your festivities.

10. Idealistic and Realistic

With the end of the year approaching and the new year right around the corner, we want to end well and start strong. This means pushing hard to meet financial targets and deadlines, while setting inspiring goals for the year ahead. It is also a time of year when we need to accept and celebrate reality while ensuring our vision and plans are achievable.

11. Discipline and Letting Loose

The holidays are an important time of year to keep a pulse check on workplace culture. On one hand, it is the best time of the year to let your team loosen up, laugh, and have some fun. On the other hand, it is also a time to provide clarity around the core expectations of workplace culture and appropriateness.

12. Focus on the Long-term and focus on the short-term

Often December is when a leader’s head starts to spin… in a good way. There are plans for the new year, updated goals and targets, and new ideas tap into your entrepreneurial spirit. At the same time, the holiday season is often the best opportunity a leader has to slow down, exhale, and turn work off for a while.

Tim Arnold is passionate about helping people understand the chronic issues that limit leadership and teamwork, so they can thrive.  He is the author of The Power of Healthy Tension, and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can overcome chronic issues and conflicting values. 

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