By Gino Blefari
This week my travels find me in Southern California, where even though the scene isn’t quite a snowy winter wonderland, you can feel the festive holiday spirit everywhere.
The month of December is a precarious time for many leaders; it’s often when they see an expected drop in the efficiency of their teams and sometimes, in themselves. But it’s just when the going gets fir-tree tough that the tough have to get going.
Real estate and many sales professions operate on a 90-day cycle; what we do 90 days before gets paid out 90 days later. This means a lag in business in December will show up in the latter part of Q1. It also means if your business is chugging along just fine now while you sip eggnog and decorate cookies, come January or February you probably won’t feel as joyous.
How can you avoid the holiday halt? In a 2018 video, Mike Ferry tackled this question by outlining the distinction between being busy and being productive. During the holidays, we’re all busy. We have friends and family to meet, people to see and parties to attend. However, this doesn’t always equate to productivity. There are certain productive activities we can do as leaders – lead generation, follow-up calls, meetings with critical clients or colleagues – that should still occur during the holidays.
As Mike Ferry explains: “You have a choice: production or being busy. The choice is yours … and making the right choice makes a huge difference in your life, in your holiday season and in the first quarter of [the year].”
There are several reasons why someone might be busy but unproductive, including: time management issues, discipline issues, the inability to follow a schedule (or the lack of a detailed schedule entirely), and the inability to block out December’s distractions and focus on work. But there are tremendous benefits to maintaining a superior work ethic during the holidays, upholding with fervent resolve the very same dedication and drive exhibited throughout the other months of the year.
Brian Buffini, founder and chairman of Buffini & Company, wrote in a 2017 blog post that “true professionals understand the period from October to December is one of the best times of the year to generate leads.” In December, you can email, call or plan to connect with clients to deliver holiday treats or simply catch up. You can also host a client appreciation holiday party or add some holiday flair to your marketing materials. The holiday season is replete with opportunities to capitalize on its underlying messages of togetherness and positive cheer.
In fact, Tom Ferry, founder and CEO of Tom Ferry International, explains in a blog post called “7 Reasons to List During the Holidays” that December is a time to go full out. He writes: “Don’t buy into the myth … that no business happens during the holidays. The holidays are a time of clear separation … separation between the agents who slow down, and the agents who ramp up to book a ton of appointments to set themselves up for success and start the new year off right.”
The same theory of a strong December applies in the NFL. The way players perform in December determines whether they’ll find themselves in the Super Bowl. Sports Illustrated writer Jenny Vrentas calls December “the most important part of the season.”
So, what’s the message? Sports Illustrated reporter John Shipley summed it up perfectly when he wrote: “[December] separates the pretenders from the contenders.”
Respond to THOUGHTS ON LEADERSHIP: DEDICATED TO DECEMBER