CEO Mid-Year Assessment: Take Time to Reflect
As we are halfway through 2023, the mid-year checkpoint is an excellent opportunity for CEOs to reflect on what's working and what's not. By nature, always-on chief executives plow through mid-year deliverables and deadlines with a keen focus on what's needed to end the year strong. But many quickly jump into Q3 and Q4 without creating space to connect deeply with their thoughts and emotions.
The mid-year milestone for savvy CEOs marks a time for self-reflection. It's a time to catch your breath, reflect, reconnect with your vision, and draw deeply within for motivation.
Business leaders are wise to use the mid-year mark as an opportunity to learn from the first half and make course adjustments toward a solid year-end. Here are three guidelines to help you review, assess, and make course adjustments for a successful second half.
1. Reassess Your Goals
As with every journey, chief executives must remember that success starts with having a clear destination. In business, a clear destination begins with SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
For CEOs who think they won't meet yearly goals, staying motivated and effectively mapping course corrections is challenging. A healthy exercise is adjusting your SMART goals to attain incremental wins. Make modifications to keep your team advancing toward the objectives and hold individuals accountable for their contributions, while boosting team morale at the same time. If your goals are outdated and irrelevant, they will not move you and your company toward the right destination. CEOs must be wise when choosing which objectives to prioritize and communicate the course correction to their teams, clients, suppliers, and other critical partners.
2. Adjust Your Strategy
Now that you're starting the second half of 2023 with achievable and relevant goals, you can begin to build your strategy. You need to create an action plan that answers the question, "How are you planning to achieve your goals?" As Benjamin Franklin said, "Failure to plan is planning to fail."
Start by evaluating what you learned in the year's first half. Identify "winning" areas where you've met your goals and examine what's working and why. Then, determine how to build on that. If you haven't yet paused to celebrate your big wins, do so to energize and teach your team what you value most before jumping into the second half of the year. Use these wins to build momentum and move beyond what you imagined you would accomplish in 2023 when you created your annual plan.
Then, stop to consider your failures or areas where you haven’t been successful. Determine what's not working or needs to be changed or dropped. Decide how to redeploy people, time, and money to move forward. If your company abandons a significant project, reassign resources.
Now, fail forward. Recognize your disappointments and approach setbacks as learning opportunities to help your team pivot and rally around agile practices. Adjusting your strategy starts with the ability to manage your own emotions. Successful CEOs muster the courage to accept that they are imperfect. They take stock of the situation when mistakes are made and have their egos in check. They recognize the key learnings rather than dwelling on the issue to the detriment of their people, clients, and company.
Understanding leadership intellectually can be simple, but exercising outstanding leadership never is. It takes inner strength and self-confidence to accept mistakes, even when carefully choosing with whom to confide your errors and doubts. If you struggle to see opportunities for improvement, surround yourself with trusted and insightful people who can provide constructive feedback and help identify the leadership or management issues impacting your business.
3. Create Space for Yourself
CEOs are human beings in leadership positions, not machines constantly in go-mode. Remember this above all else before embarking on the second half of the year. Create space to take stock of your feelings and what you've accomplished. And explore your emotions regarding the work ahead. In a mid-year assessment, the three questions CEOs should ask themselves are:
How motivated am I to continue doing my job in the next six months? Motivation is at its highest when the company's purpose aligns with your "why," and you feel empowered to lead the organization. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on how your and your company's purposes are aligned. Then use the same scale to rate how empowered you feel to lead the company.
How would I rate my level of life satisfaction? Life satisfaction is the primary goal of every person. When your life satisfaction is high, you lead from a place of creativity, energy, confidence, and service to others. If, on the other hand, you lack the motivation to do your job, you are likely to fail. The same is true if you feel you're paying too high a price where work impacts your life, such as relationships, health, and spiritual development. If you cannot live the best version of yourself as a CEO, consider transitioning to a different role or even out of the company. Nobody is indispensable in a great business, not even the CEO, and sometimes stepping aside is the best way to serve your people and business.
What activities bring me energy, and which ones sap my energy level? Sometimes you feel exceptionally motivated to do your job and have high life satisfaction. Other times, things drain you, leaving you feeling exhausted. Examine what is sapping your energy and what you can do to remove these energy siphons. Usually, this is as simple as shutting down an activity that yields no results or putting it in the hands of someone who can give it more energy and focus than you. Then, think about who is draining your energy. Consider distancing yourself from individuals who deplete your energy and bringing the people that energize you closer. Make a list of the actions and people in each of these two categories (adds/drains my energy) and decide what you will do to course correct.
Make the most out of your mid-year assessment by following three actions:
Reassess Your Goals
Adjust Your Strategy
Create Space for Yourself
Take a couple of hours alone, in a quiet environment, to ponder these three actions. Seek the counsel of peer leaders, then decide which steps to take and follow through on your commitments.