team celebration

The Lost Art of This Leadership Responsibility

Many of you find yourself in a different energy gear at this time of year. For some of you, this time of year brings some reflection and relaxation. Others of you don’t know where your energy is going to come from and are relying on Redbull and Starbucks to help you finish the year strong. No matter what psychological energy state you find yourself as a leader, one of the most important leadership responsibilities you have is to create memories for those you love and care about. Those you are responsible for can be either in your work life or your home life.

Big family with three children celebrating Christmas at home. Festive dinner at fireplace and Xmas tree. Parent and kids eating at fire place in decorated room. Child lighting advent wreath candle

As a leader, you have the responsibility to be  a memory maker.

Those who follow you, whether at home or at work, will remember for many years to come the impact of the memories you created for them.

My Story

Recently, I lead a group of students I teach in an intentional leadership exercise. I had them ask family members to all think about an event they participated in together. Something like a vacation, a sporting event, or even a meal. Then each person is to write a short paragraph recalling what the event meant to them. We call this a Family Journaling exercise.

Let me tell you, my students went into this exercise kicking and screaming (metaphorically of course). They came out of it with deep joy and gratitude for the experience. Why the transformation?

Many students reflected on the power of the memory sharing that family members had recalled. It was powerful for them to hear the depth of meaning brought by those who shared. Several students commented they were going to make this part of their holiday tradition. They were starting a Christmas journal to capture the highlights of the year and then read them in years to come.

My wife writes a Christmas journal every year. I can share from personal experience how powerful it is to go back over the years and reflect on the significance of that particular season. We collect some of our favorite Christmas Cards, recipes, and stories into the journal.  My wife will even play a game with us reading some of the collection and have us guess the year it took place.

Why not be intentional this holiday season about creating positive memories for those you lead? Here are a few suggestions for activities you could lead others to participate in. These types of activities are both fun and cathartic for those who engage, and for you as a leader there will be things that are shared that are valuable learnings for you to reflect upon.

Here are 3 memory makers you could lead for those who follow you:

  1. Create a Family/ Team Journal. Write down significant events, gifts, meals, from the season. Include some photographs and Christmas cards in the journal. Have those on your team or family help you by selecting what is meaningful for them.
  2. Do a Family/Team Journaling Exercise. This is an easy one, and you can do it in under an hour. Pick an event like a vacation, celebration, or a time when you all were together. Then give everyone a blank sheet of paper or a blank note on their device. Have them write a paragraph or two of what they remember from their perspective. When everyone is finished, spin a candy cane and the person the stick is pointing to goes first. After they read what they wrote, have others fill in the memories from their perspective.
  3. Lead a Gratitude Group. Sit your group in a circle and share something that someone in your group did this year that you are thankful for. This is a great one for kids of all ages to practice the freeing emotion of being thankful.

My hope for you as a leader is that you will take some time and reflect this holiday season on how truly blessed you are. I love being on this leadership journey with you and look forward to a great 2016.

Homework: Okay, this is an easy one this week. Pick one, two, or even all three of the memory makers outlined above and implement them with your team or family. We would love to hear from you if you do this, so drop us a line and tell us your experience.