Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

What Has 2011 Taught You About Business and Leadership?

As this is the last week of the year, many of us are understandably looking back at the past 12 months and discussing what we consider to be the significant events of 2011. In most cases, such discussions tend to focus on the numerous challenges and upheavals we’ve either watched from afar or witnessed first-hand. From natural disasters to political uprisings, there’s no question this year has placed our collective humanity within the frame of adversity and unimagined change.

Of course, adversity in and of itself is not necessarily a good or bad thing. Rather, it’s what we do and whether we’re open to learning from it that should decide whether it’s been of benefit or harm to us.

Certainly for businesses, the state of the global economy and the growing level of competition coming in from multiple fronts counts as one of the biggest challenges organizations and their leaders have had to contend with. And yet, contrary to what we might be reading in the papers, this doesn’t mean that weren’t some bright spots to be found amid all that doom and gloom.

One such example of this comes from the article, “Business Lessons Learned in 2011”, where a number of business leaders look back at the past 12 months and share their experiences of the lessons they’ve learned which will help them to improve and build on their business in the coming months.

Some of my favourite lessons shared in this piece include:

“People often say ‘listen to your customers,’ but that’s not a complete enough process. First, ask your customers what you’re doing right and wrong, and listen carefully to what they tell you. Then, take action. Here’s why. If you don’t ask, many times customers won’t say that their experience wasn’t quite perfect. If you don’t put aside your prejudices, you may not realize that a customer is right when you think they are wrong. If you don’t take action on what your customers are saying, they will simply quit providing you with feedback.”
— Salah Boukadoum, Soap Hope

“One of the main lessons I learned this year is that my best return on investment is through holding free marketing classes and educational seminars. What started out as an idea to give back to the business community has led to new opportunities.”
— Karen Taylor, New Destiny Marketing

“I’ve learned this year not to take on too much work. I have an 18-month-old little boy who is taking up a lot of what used to be my ‘work from home’ time. Rather than stressing about all the stuff that’s not getting done, this year I made it a priority to try and ignore the small stuff, understanding that, if left alone, none of these non-actions would cause the company to go down the drain anyway.”
— Adam Koos, Libertas Wealth Management Group

As you can see, the lessons some business leaders have learned over the course of this tough year include how to listen better, the financial – not to mention social – benefits of giving back to the community, and how to make more time for family without feeling guilty over the loss of time that could be spent working.

There are several other wonderful lessons shared by other business leaders that are worth noting and I invite you to check those out as well by reading the article “Business Lessons Learned in 2011”.

As this is my last piece for the year, I’d like to end by asking you, the readers of my blog, what lessons you’ve learned over the course of the past year? What new understandings did your choices/decisions reveal to you about your business and the teams you lead? I look forward to learning more about your insights and experiences.

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14 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , , | December 27, 2011 by |

14 Comments on

What Has 2011 Taught You About Business and Leadership?

  1. On December 27th, 2011 at 12:21 PM Yvonne Root said:

    The comment concerning "listen to your customers," is one which I've struggled a bit with. But, not the way you may think. I truly do listen to our customers. Or at least I try very hard.

    No, my problem was getting better at discerning which people not to listen too. For some reason, I thought that everyone who was willing to chat for any length of time was a potential customer. Not so. Chatters are simply chatters. Customers are those who purchase. And,I am getting better at knowing the difference.

  2. On December 27th, 2011 at 3:04 PM Jim Matorin said:

    #1 key learning – Validated that can reduce my online time significantly since I have A.) Established my digital footprint; B.) Learned to follow the right people (Tanveer you are one of those special people) that keep me in the loop, thus I do not have to keep digging for truffles anymore; and C.) Learned that there really is TMI out there, thus it is time to let go and walk.

    What do I plan to do with my new found time? Lead my community with a project that I conceived last year, that I want to start pushing towards the implementation phase in 2012, with a launch hopefully in 2013 if I connect with the right people.

    Tanveer: Thank you for your continual inspiration. My best wishes for 2012.

  3. On December 27th, 2011 at 4:13 PM Jon M said:

    Hi Tanveer,

    I believe one of the best lessons learned this past year is to have direct debates about issues, plans, and strategy. It is about being open, honest, and frequent in the discussions. This is the only way to get timely information and make adjustments as needed.

    This approach is needed for management teams as well as in one-to-one meetings. It eliminates skirting issues, but getting at them in a fully honest and mutually engaged manner.

    Appreciate all your insights in the past year. All the best to you in 2012!


  4. On December 27th, 2011 at 9:09 PM Henry said:

    The year 2011 has been a great year for me as a starter of new business. At initial stage one can bring significant improvements in his business by following some of the good experience that they learn from others in the same niche. This excellent observation that you have mentioned here from top business legends will probably be very helpful to me! I appreciate your write up!

  5. On December 28th, 2011 at 11:08 AM amandblogger said:

    As for me, then I can definitely say that this year taught me to plan everything in my business and activity. As a result I always know what I have already achieved according to my plan, and what else should be done further.

  6. On January 4th, 2012 at 4:53 AM chloebergman said:

    As a business owner, I find that I never get the opportunity to switch off, even at home after a long day. I find that my most inspirational moments come when I go to sleep at night. The normal daily business hours are the usual get-things-done grind, but it's when I start to drift off at night when my creative side becomes more active. Hence, I keep a notepad and pen on my bedside to jot down my thoughts and ideas. Yes you wake momentarily, but that little niggle is put to bed too, and my mind can relax…

  7. On January 4th, 2012 at 10:25 AM Dennis said:


    Interesting post and question. So right now it's the first time this year when I look back at 2011. If I were to choose one thing I have learned in 2011 is never to rush into things without making a very good plan! ( I am talking about business, of course!)

    Warm wishes to you all,

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