by Deb Cummins, Vice-President

February 2nd. Groundhog Day. In honor of one of our team members, an official ambassador from Punxsutawney, let’s consider the leadership lessons we can glean from this holiday first celebrated in 1887. The folklore positions the groundhog (fondly known as Phil) as a predictor of weather and hope. A sunny day that allows the groundhog to see his shadow will send him scurrying back into his burrow, a sign of six more weeks of winter. A cloudy and therefore shadowless day is a sign of spring encouraging the groundhog to stay above ground. In 1993, Bill Murray made Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania famous worldwide in the film aptly called “Groundhog Day.”  The film’s plot gave new meaning to the term “Groundhog Day” as something that repeats itself… endlessly. Like insanity. According to Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So let’s connect the dots. What do a groundhog, Bill Murray and Albert Einstein have in common? If leaders do the same thing over and over again, they are bound to end up with the same results.

Here are some things to remember about leadership today, as we hope for Punxy Phil not to see his shadow.

  1. Dream big and have hope but don’t rely on others to control your future. Don’t leave your business, future and personal success in the hands of one boss, one leader or even one groundhog.
  2. Designate specific dates on the calendar to review your progress and to forecast your success. Groundhog Day is a standard entry on every calendar. Such a day can be a formal way to check in, evaluate and forecast. As a leader, it is your responsibility to schedule formal opportunities to reflect where you are and where you are going. Course correction matters. Stephen Covey talked about the 80/20 rule. Take 20% of your time to plan. Doing so will exponentially improve your results.
  3. Don’t let yourself become a victim of insanity. Consider your role as an innovator. The authors of The Leadership Challenge (Kouzes and Posner) define one of the practices of exemplary leadership as “Challenging the Process”. Consider how you challenge yourself and others to try out new ways to improve. Without this behavior, we subject ourselves to the rhetoric of insanity.
  4. Don’t continue to practice leadership behaviors that are not getting you and your team outstanding results. At Northstar Team Development, we emphasize the importance of building your leadership muscle. One of our assessments, the LPI 360, provides leaders with a feedback tool to assess where leaders are viewed on the practice of exemplary leadership.  If you are not getting the results you need to take your organization to the next level, consider what behaviors you can choose to facilitate personal growth and organizational success.
  5. Mindset matters. Research on the brain teaches us important lessons on rewiring our brain to get different results. Metacognition means thinking about your thinking. By definition, metacognition is the “mindset that we use to monitor our progress as we work and to assess when we need to change course.” It is this ability to recognize a false start and “course correct” that makes the metacognitive mindset so critical to success.  Consider your leadership mindset on a daily basis.

As tens of thousands of people flock to Punxsutawney today to see Phil emerge from his burrow, let’s mark the day as an opportunity to refocus the leadership lens and build the skill set necessary to ensure our own leadership destiny.