I unashamedly love Christmas and all that it brings with it. Deep down I suspect that some mistake was made in the cosmic scheme of things as I would be far better suited to a northern hemisphere Christmas than to our southern beaches, barbecues and sweltering heat as we sing about a one-horse open sleigh being pulled through the snow.

Over the years a Christmas highlight has been that I get to read my children’s letters to Santa. One that stands out was penned by Sipho. It read: ‘Dear Santa, how are you? This year I have been good and this year I have been bad. I think though that I have been about six-and-half out of ten good.’

A self-evaluated pass!

Setting goals and undertaking evaluations have long been part of the territory of leadership. Sometimes I think elaborate goal setting exercises stem from a deep need to believe that we can be in control of our future.

The reality is that we are not.

Just ask the person who has been diagnosed with cancer, the parent who loses a child through a freak accident, the employee who has been retrenched, or the person whose home is destroyed by a flash flood. Given the pace of change on this ball hung in space that we call home, goals that spell out the future can be obliterated in a matter of seconds, as the events of September 11 should remind us.

Is goal setting the adult version of writing to Santa? Maybe.

Self-evaluation is another matter entirely. I don’t believe that personal development can take place without self-awareness. Leadership, so long immune to sound, honest self-evaluation, could be in for a shock following the meltdown of corporate America and the subsequent call to accountability for those in charge.

Leaders who surround themselves with those who are willing to challenge, who ask the tough questions and who build internal mechanisms for rigorous self-scrutiny will be the ones who will experience enduring effectiveness.

TomorrowToday Global