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Whoever Coined the Phrase “Never Look Back”​ Must Have Been a Horrible Leader

It’s that time of the year where a fresh start and new possibilities loom as the calendar flips forward to a new year. In some ways, it feels like we are all granted permission to forget about unfulfilled resolutions or unmet goals and focus only on what lies in front of us. After all, isn’t this what we have been encouraged to do? “Don’t get stuck in the past”, “keep pressing play”, “focus on what’s ahead”.

Good leaders always look back before looking ahead

Reflection is a catalyst for learning and growth. Employees look to their leaders to demonstrate this. If you are in a leadership role, there are 6 things you can do right now, today, before the end of the year creeps up on you.

Year in Review

What did your team/individuals accomplish and where did they fall short?  Take a few minutes to gather a list. Discuss with your teams and capture what you’ve learned. Celebrate everything- success and failure. Do I need to remind you how powerful failure can be?

Leadership Effectiveness

Identify at least one thing you did as a leader this year that was effective. Continue to do it in 2020.  Identify at least one thing that you need to change and think about how you’re going to change it.


Are you keeping pace with workplace trends?  Working from home, flexible schedules, meaningful work assignments and community outreach are all examples of workplace shifts that are becoming more of an expectation every day. Did you embrace and advocate for these shifts in your workplace this year?


The struggle is real folks. If you were tasked with hiring talent in 2019, you know what I’m talking about. Talent shortages are everywhere and will continue into next year. Have you thought about your what you can do to improve the hiring process? Do you respond quickly, interview timely, provide detailed feedback? Are your job descriptions fresh and updated or are you looking for candidates based on the way you have always done it? Are you open to thinking differently about how you staff your team?


During the past twelve months, which peers have you worked most effectively and least effectively with? You know who they are. Do you know what makes those relationships successful or unsuccessful? I’ll bet if you give it some thought, you will see a common thread between them. Can you leverage something from a strong peer relationship to make a struggling one better?

Manage Up

When is the last time you gave your boss some constructive feedback? How was that experience for you? Everyone deserves feedback. Even if it’s simply to say, “It would be helpful for me if you could give me feedback about how I am doing from time to time.”

It’s okay. Go ahead and take a look back. Spend one hour thinking about these six things, capture your insights and discoveries and then move on. After all, there is much to do in 2020.

Your turn…is there anything you think should be included on this list?

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