Business leaders! Plan the year ahead for yourself

Welcome to your brand-new year


Executive search across Africa

Welcome to your brand-new year and with it the hope of incredible opportunities. Some of those aspirations though, much like their cousins; New Year’s resolutions, can be dashed very quickly. Sometimes before the end of January.

One of the best ways of keeping to any resolution is to have a plan. You must communicate the plan though because a strategy is only as good as the people implementing it. And it’s difficult to implement anything if you don’t understand the brief.

It’s vital, before the year starts picking up momentum and running away from you to get your team together to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Everyone has to know what you expect from them. They must also have a chance to tell you what they expect from you – if you are going to keep the entire process honest.

But just as it is important to formulate and then articulate a corporate strategy, it’s vital to have a personal strategy. It works the same way: a vision of where you want to go, a plan for how you get there and milestones to check your progress along the way.

It might be a cliché, but the old saying ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’, is as true for individuals. Especially high performing individuals like yourself – as it is for any other enterprise.

Executive search across Africa

Achieving your personal strategy

There are many facets to achieving your personal strategy, but they all involve taking care of yourself, ensuring that you have the kind of skills your job will demand. Thus guaranteeing that your energy levels will always be up to the task. A very simple way to start is by setting boundaries right now. For example ranging from how you can be contacted when you’re at the office trying to work and how people can get in touch – if at all – when you leave the office.

If you haven’t learnt this by now, then this is your year to understand that the fastest way to burnout is to be perennially on. There is also the added handicap of never empowering those below you to grow if you’re always having to second guess them.

It’s not enough to switch off, it’s important to do something with that time; play sport, study, walk, journal – or a combination of all of them. It’s vital too to connect – and stay connected – with your family. Sometimes there’s nothing more important than putting your phone on silent and taking an afternoon off. Or to cheer on your child from the sidelines of their school match.

Start planning ahead

It’s very useful to end your day by planning what needs to be done the next day and then taking a couple of minutes to mentally review the day you’ve just had. Doing this helps stop the treadmill we are caught on. The problem with the treadmill, and putting out the daily bushfires of life, is that the more intense the crisis the harder we focus on one thing and the greater we lose our peripheral vision. Stopping and thinking at the end of each day gives us a priceless opportunity to regain perspective on a problem that could well have been slipping away.

Get active

It’s important to get active because far too many of us are caught in increasingly sedentary jobs. Like driving to work and then sitting behind a desk or around the boardroom table, all the time crouched over our laptops and smartphones. There are many ways of getting active from as simple as getting up and going for a walk. Or to taking a yoga class and doing some meditation or joining a gym. It all helps balance the body’s balance sheet, by replenishing the areas that you are so busy depleting which will inevitably just speed up your own burnout if you don’t address it. It is precisely why making sure you get a good night’s sleep is so important.


Study is another way of squaring your balance sheet, but it is a thorny issue. When many of us first qualified, it was expected that what we learned would have kept us going for at least the next 20 years. That’s not the case anymore. Life is changing so fast under the incredible disruption we are experiencing from technology that we must keep our skill set fresh and relevant. Some people sign up for full on post graduate courses like the MBA degree but then end up quickly becoming overwhelmed by the workload and dropping out when they get despondent which is totally counter-productive. The better route is to start slowly with short courses to get back into the habit of studying.

It’s not vital either to expressly study within the discipline in which your work. In fact sometimes it’s better to learn something totally different and broaden your skills. Joining a toastmaster’s club is a perfect example. It can let you accomplish two different things simultaneously, radically improve your public speaking skills (and ability to think and speak on your feet). And meeting a brand-new bunch of people from backgrounds you might never have had the opportunity to otherwise. Meeting new people is vital for personal growth. It’s perhaps one of the lesser-known drawcards enrolling for an MBA – being able to tap into a new network that might even be international.

Make your New Year’s resolution: take care of yourself

Whether it’s playing Fortnite with your kids (and developing a degree of cool with your younger staff who might be gamers) to meditating. To journaling, hiking up Kilimanjaro or taking a course in digital transformation; make your New Year’s resolution this year to take care of yourself. In the process, set yourself incentives, just like you would your staff. If you hit those targets at the end of Q1, go off on a mini-break or treat yourself to something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy yourself.

Strategy, like charity, begins at home. It’s difficult to motivate and inspire others if you can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed and off to the office on a Monday morning. So be the change in yourself that you want to see in those you lead.

I hope you have a great 2024!

Lucia Mabasa expresses an expert opinion in this article

Lucia Mabasa is the Chief Executive Officer of pinpoint one human resources. An executive search firm, established since 1999. The core business of pinpoint one human resources, is the executive search of C-Suite executives, critical and scarce skills across industries, sectors and functional disciplines in South Africa and across Africa.

Read her previous columns on leadership; avoiding the pitfalls of the boardroom and becoming the best C-suite executive you can be.

This article was published in IOL.