A personal leadership manifesto

As we come to the end of this extraordinary year, it’s fitting we end our Christmas Advent Calendar series with a witty but practical look at the future from Jone Bosworth as to how to craft a personal leadership manifesto.

“You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bulls**t. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years.” – Chris Rock, American Comedian

To say that 2020 has been an unforgettable year is like saying the Himalayan range is a slight rise in the road. It really did feel like life may be short, that a bus hit the entire world. This bus catalyzed choices.

The home office

Like millions, I chose to cobble together a home office and jumped into video meetings for hours a day. Chronic video meeting fatigue is real. It’s painful: “constant gaze,” multi-tasking, and for me, a daily reminder that I haven’t had a proper haircut in months. (Liz Fosslien and Molly West Duffy offer great suggestions for combating Zoom fatigue here.)

With vaccines on the horizon, so it the assumption that we’ll reemerge as the workplace goers and travellers we previously were. But I’ll miss some of the great giggles constant video meeting have generated:

  • Your children dive-bomb a meeting? Suddenly a little face appears, sees herself on video and starts acting for the camera in ways that normally you’d put her in time-out for. I care for my elderly mother who has memory-loss issues and she frequently guests stars in work meetings. No matter how many times I try to explain that workmates and clients can see her pottering around, wandering in and out of video view, it doesn’t stick.
  • Have you forgotten to click video off and created embarrassing, ‘I’m-not-sure-I’ll-live-this-down’ moments? I once left my video on following a meeting, bumped into my makeshift home office’s bookshelf, knocking it over. I later learned a client heard every word I said, including not a few profanities. He sent me an email that said he liked me even more after seeing the “real” me.
  • Found that as months passed your work attire gravitated to top of the body only? I’m personally concerned I may never put proper shoes on again.

A chance to laugh

As benchmarking goes, if your embarrassing video meeting moment ranks below the unfortunate woman who earned a ‘gone-viral’ moment after carrying her computer into the loo and setting it on the floor beside the toilet, you’re doing spectacularly well. (Why would her colleagues share this? Oh, the cruelty!)

These authentic human moments have been our temporary kryptonite during the pandemic: A chance to laugh at ourselves – with others – a choice, unwitting or not, to let others see what our lives are really like. This humanized us, our work relationships and work life.

End of the Year reflection

As the new year looms, it is time to make more choices, choices for our post-pandemic future. Not resolutions, mind you. Those get trampled on by mid-January. I’m talking about creating an inspiring credo, a manifest, that will help you make stick-to-‘em choices in the new year.

Carve out a few quiet moments, reflect, and jot down by hand to tap into the part of your brain you might not be using as often:

  1. One thing I started doing this year that I definitely want to keep doing because I’m great at it…
  2. One thing I stopped doing this year that I found I didn’t miss at all (and my work didn’t suffer in the slightest)…
  3. One example of how I shifted my focus more toward life and not work is… (And no, my sister and brother workaholics, this doesn’t mean you can write how you increased from 60 hours a week to 70. If that’s your first inclination, dig a bit more.)
  4. The biggest ah-ha realization I had in 2020 was…
  5. The one or two people who really helped me get through 2020 were… (How did they help?)

Review and reflect on your answers. What:

  • jumps out at you most?
  • shocks you?
  • gives you a warm feeling inside?
  • makes you nod your head in agreement?

These will formthe basis of your personal leadership manifesto for 2021.

Shaping up your personal leadership manifesto

A personal leadership manifesto is like a compass, not a map. It is:

  • a declaration of your intentions
  • your rallying cry, the choices you’ll make that embody what you stand for as the leader of your life
  • what you’ll post on the wall to remind you of what you learned and most importantly, what direction you intend to lead into in 2021.

You can shape your manifesto by brutally editing your responses to reflection questions. You could write a one-sentence statement that captures what the reflection questions brought up for you. If you’re so inclined, you may draw an image or find one that captures the essence of your intentions. You might pick out one word that embraces the entirety of your reflections and intentions.

Still need help? I love how Chris Brogan, New York Times best-selling author of 9 books, says he creates his annual manifestos in just three words:

Make the first word about yourself,
the second about your loved ones,
the third about your business

My deepest sympathies to all who have lost loved ones, friends and colleagues to Covid19. May you craft a New Year’s manifesto that honours those we have lost and sets intentions to lead the life – and work-life – they would applaud.

Get more information about Jone’s “Leadership As Coach Programme” here

Jone is a tri-sector strategist, executive coach and trained mediator. She helps focused people do great things in their workplaces, communities, and the world. Find out more by visiting her website inCourage Leading

To find out more about Jone and what she has to offer, visit her bio below

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Jone Bosworth, J.D. writes about leadership, women, and wise organizational strategies. A speaker, certified executive coach and strategist, Jone is the CEO of inCourage Leading, LLC.