Leadership is comprised of a series of moments, and it can be difficult to sort out individual moments over time.  A continual leadership challenge is to be aware of which moments matter and what to do about them.

As the year comes to a close, take a minute to reflect upon some of the key moments of your leadership in 2012. If, in hindsight, you could have made better decisions, how will you remind yourself to make different choices in the coming year?

Here are a few positive moments of leadership to work toward in the coming year.

The moment you don’t let someone off the hook

Organizations are full of dropped commitments.  Keeping people “on the hook” until their commitments are fulfilled can be uncomfortable for them, and for you.  It is tempting to let them off prematurely, because you are causing their discomfort.  For the greater good, resist.  Accept that progress requires pressure, and it is your job to apply it responsibly.

The moment you deliberately deflect attention from yourself

When you sincerely refocus the spotlight, the immediate impact is to help others thrive.  The secondary effect is that you get time and space to observe others. Leaders must be excellent observers in order to decide where to go next.  It is hard to observe while in the spotlight.

The moment you ask a different, deeper question

Many questions skim the surface of an issue, or are asked when one already knows some of the answer, or are really statements masquerading as questions.  How can you avoid these un-helpful questions?  During an important conversation, how well do you choose a different, deeper question to get to the heart of the matter?  How do you decide what to ask, and find the courage to ask it?

The moment you simply say, “Well done”

This two-word statement carries tremendous positive influence when offered genuinely and on time.

The moment you gather yourself before doing something uncomfortable

It can be easy to shy away from the build-up to uncomfortable events, conversations, and decisions.  We often create distractions rather than embrace uncertainty and fear.  And yet, it is precisely the sensations of discomfort that signal the need for preparation.  You can decide how best to prepare only when you sense the moment - so be aware.

The moment you pursue what’s best, even if it’s inconvenient

A leader must consistently demonstrate commitment to the shared purpose of the organization. When a leader decides not to pursue a complicated or messy problem, it can easily appear that the leader is simply taking the path of least resistance.  Conversely, when a leader embraces an inconvenient challenge, the message is clearly one of devotion to the shared purpose.

The moment you let something pass

As important as deciding what to pursue is deciding what to let go.  Distractions abound, real and imagined, and making the time to decide what is better left unaddressed will maintain your focus on the wider view and more important tasks.

The moment you rightly give yourself a break

As a leader, critics are all around - and none may be louder than the one in your own head. Lowering the volume of self-criticism is always a good idea, because too much internal noise will interfere with your ability to reflect, and drown out the helpful perspectives of others.

Recognizing the importance of individual moments will allow for more authentic and effective leadership. 

Have a Happy New Year!