When I look back at 2017 - which will occur in only 109 days! - I will do my usual review of the business and my own personal growth. Last year, on New Year's Eve, my son asked me "Dad, what is the best thing that you have done this year?" and, surprisingly, it was a hard question to answer. This year, I know that I have a clear front-runner.
And that is coaching a Years 7 and 8 football team.
This year I decided to offer my time to coach a team which included by daughter. I went into it with a plan to ensure the children got the most value out of the season. This included building skills, teamwork and, most of all, fun and enjoyment.
I modelled my approach on a coach I had when I was in, what was, Form 2. At that time I played for Wanganui City and was coached by Steve Silk. It was, by far, my favourite year of football - not just because we were successful but because we were properly coached.
This year I introduced the team to values which were important to both the season but also life in general. They were (are) Focus, Teamwork, Commitment and 'Do your job' - and the players grasped each and every concept.
So, how does this relate to business in general? Unless you are a sole trader, you will likely be part of a team and the measure of success that you achieve will be derived from how that team performs.
Each team has its 'stars' and they bring skills and experience which drive the team to higher levels of performance. The football team had a core of fantastically talented kids.
Our striker was as good as a young Luis Suarez and we had an attacking midfielder who was our equivalent of Lionel Messi. When these kids played well we nearly always won handsomely. From time to time I had to remind them of their talent and urge them to higher performance, but that is what a coach is there to do and every time I asked them to raise their game they did.
It is the same in business, great managers are more like coaches than dictators. It is less about the activities being undertaken and more about helping people grow and discover new abilities.
I also set in place an incentive system, rewarding players with points for achieving results (including aspects of their game identified to work on, which I put in a weekly email).
I was pleasantly surprised with how positively the team responded to this. It shows that the right incentives truly motivate in any situation. One player in particular worked so hard on his game and skills that he went from a good player to outstanding - our Cristiano Ronaldo (including overhead kicks!).
Another important player was our captain. Leadership is crucial and we were fortunate that one child stood out from day one.
Like Steven Gerrard, actions (not words) summed up his style and there were times he dominated the midfield and clearly led his teammates to higher levels of performance.
I am doing more work these days in helping teams set their strategies and designing their structure to achieve success (including leadership). Our team won its 'Champions League', yours can too.
■Balance Consulting is a Whanganui consultancy specialising in business strategy, process excellence and leadership mentoring - contact Russell Bell on 021 2442421 or John Taylor on 027 4995872.