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Back in January of 2021, I shared a Team Renewal session design, inviting you to set the stage – along with your team – for a winning 2021. And I hope your year has felt like a win thus far.

And now we blink, and it’s Q4. I mean…seriously???

And while Q4 is the same size and shape as the others, it always seems to fight above its weight class. Q4 holds the most pressure but also the most promise. It’s about closure…but also about openings and imaginings.

So how do we make this Q4 our strongest yet?

In partnering with leadership teams across various industries throughout the year, I’ve seen firsthand some of the unique challenges facing each. But also, the universality of so many themes, experiences, and opportunities remains.

Today let’s focus on sameness over difference and lean into four keys to maximize the power and impact of our final quarter of the year.

1. Codify your insights and practices.

This year, whatever your industry, you’ve witnessed a newness that has challenged old ways and assumptions. Unforeseen shifts in customer behavior, ways of teamworking, impacts on supply chain or production or service have forced innovation – big and small – to happen.

You’ve juggled the changes with grace But now’s the time to take a step back, reflect on all that is new or altered, and make choices around what’s serving you (ways and practices to carry into 2022) and what’s hurting or obstructing (things to let go of or reimagine).

Spend time with your team exploring and assessing the changes you’ve made. And capture 3 or 5 or 12 that you love and make them part of your roadmap for the balance of the year into the next. Literally, write them down and share with the team so you’re all operating from the same manual.

Intention is the thing that can make or break your Q4. So set yours.

2. Delineate outcomes achieved and projected

What we’ve accomplished is just as important as how we’ve accomplished it.

There’s been such an abundance of busyness this year. But how clearly are you and your team able to articulate what’s been delivered and what impact those deliverables have yielded?

This is about celebrating achievements, but also about infusing mindfulness into how you’re investing time and energy in the final quarter.

What must you still achieve in the final three months of the year to put a bow on the box that is 2021? What’s the narrative that gives 2021 a beautiful shape? And what might be on the to-do list that just doesn’t serve your story?

Let go of the non-essentials in Q4. Not forever. Just for now. Keep your story clean and powerful.

3. Expand imaginations with big questions

Now’s the moment to look ahead to next year. This isn’t about project scoping or planning. It’s about posing big sexy questions and just getting the creative juices flowing.

Rather than “what strategies will we use to increase our NPS by 3%,” ask “how might we reinvent our customer experience?”

The point isn’t to answer the questions, but to give people the creative space to wonder, banter, dare, challenge, and maybe even invent. Insert learning hours into your fourth quarter – and let your team wander and explore.

This is a moment for infusing creativity and imagination into the year to come. Who knows what seed you may inadvertently plant?

4. Recognize greatness through expression of gratitude

Your team has worked hard this year. You know this. Make sure they feel seen. Not generically (thanks for a great job) but specifically.

Take a few private moments and review a highlight reel. Choose moments in which team members really showed up – and choose to recognize those.

Don’t over-index on “big wins” (i.e., closing a big sale or designing a winning campaign). Of course those are worthy of honor. But don’t overlook the risk someone took, even if it didn’t pan out. Don’t neglect the team member who took on a little extra while their colleague was homeschooling a child. And don’t forget the junior team member who boldly offered you some insightful feedback.

Focus on the actions and behaviors – the controllables – that you want to see more of in the coming year.

When we feel seen for being brave, bold, kind, and compassionate…it just makes us want to do it again and again.

And there you’ve got my thoughts on how to land a winning Q4.

Will you let me know how yours kicks off?