I write this as I cross the Atlantic heading to meet family and friends for another end of the year reunion, celebrations and catching up.

I can’t think of any year in my professional career that I would describe as “routine” or “boring”.  Fortunately for me, the journey I started almost 30 years ago has been interesting, exciting and always full of challenges.

For the past couple of years I’ve been working independently, leaving the comfort of corporate structures that became, well, less comfortable!  This has provided me with perspective and time to better understand the market, the clients, and improve my skills to support them.  As I enjoy the long trip back home, I wanted to share some of the highlights of 2013 and see if they resonate with colleagues and future clients:

  1. It’s still about Leadership: My experience through many different corporate environments, countries and business issues, tells me that Leadership trumps any other issue (and opportunity) in terms of continuous improvement.  There are so many conversations around training and education of the workforce, or adjusting business models and strategies, to name some; but the absence of credible, inspiring Leadership in an organization is the key that opens most of these doors.
  2. Listening – a Skill with a Premium: If driving improvements in any type of organization is dependent on good leadership, the ability to listen seems to be what leaders lack the most.  Within the overall set of “leadership communication skills”, we always think of people that can articulate a message, motivate and inspire through impactful presentations.  But the feedback I get consistently from the market, suggests that the basic ability to listen and to provide channels for others to speak, is in higher demand.
  3. Reluctant Leaders: Since 2008, the global crisis has changed our entire business, social and cultural landscape.  It is harder to lead and manage organizations, create value, and adapt to the new environment.  And while there are more and more professionals who offer their experience, methodologies and tools to support leaders and managers, there is reluctance from prospective clients to partner with new or established providers. My perception on this: many, many leaders are not understanding or accepting that their primary role is one of collective service (towards their colleagues, clients, shareholders, the community at large, etc.) and not of individual success.  When this attitude changes, leaders are open minded and embrace new approaches, ideas and partnerships.

It’s been a good year in terms of learning and uncovering so much potential.  I thank all my clients, colleagues and friends for their support and encouragement.

Happy Holidays and New Year to all of you.