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Many leaders make the fundamental mistake of ‘assuming’ their senior leadership is onboard, in-sync and fully understands the strategic priorities of the organization. Mainly this assumption spawns from the belief that attending budget sessions and sharing forecasts is sufficient to get the ball rolling into the new year. Unfortunately though, when you actually ask the senior leadership to list down the organization’s top three priorities the results are often embarrassingly varied. What you then have is a leader who’s overlooking the obvious and leaving the important things of success out to chance.

Setting priorities is fundamentally one of the most important things you should be focusing on as a leader. It’s as important as the values, brand image and innovation your organization can boast about. So to get this right, here are two important things you should do before you head into the new year.

1. Collectively Articulate Strategic Priorities

Once you’ve established your organization’s objectives and goals for the new year the next biggest thing to do is to align your team behind it. Getting your senior leadership behind a collectively held objective that’s driven by a meaningful purpose is the essential catalyst to achieving your goals. And to really get them behind the cause you need to align them to a strategy they believe in and will follow wholeheartedly.

Before you kick start the new year, get your senior leadership into a room and walk them through the process of collectively articulating the organization’s strategic priorities. Employ the strategy story technique to communicate to the team how you plan to go about gunning for these priorities.

2. Identify Organizational Capabilities

Since the future is so unpredictable, you can never be too prepared for the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead. However, you can be smart and build capabilities that’ll help your organization stand a better chance of succeeding. Identifying organizational capabilities that you have to develop is among the important things that you should do as you approach the end of 2017. To achieve this you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone and:

  • Identify trends that might impact your business in the future
  • Analyze your competitors’ strengths and growth strategies and how you can proactively be ahead
  • Dive into your customers’ minds to know exactly what they’re looking for rather than assuming it, and
  • Highlight your strengths and weaknesses with brutal honesty so you can adapt, learn and adjust yourself.

Looking at these four dimensions you’ll then need to identify the capabilities you need to develop, invest your resources on and stay focused on. All this will help your organization stay agile and equipped with the ability to succeed.

Leaving things to assumptions is probably the biggest mistake leaders can make. Assuming that your team is aligned to your strategy and has the required capabilities is, simply, suicidal for an organization. Before you make your next move, work on your plan to take on these important things and set them straight. You’ll kick start the new year stronger and more confidentially.