As holiday cards and gifts land on my desk and mass emails clog my inbox, I’ve been wondering how meaningful are they really.

A gift is always fun to receive, but soon forgotten. It’s eaten, regifted or, worse yet, contributed to the next white elephant gift exchange. Pre-printed cards with a barely scribbled signature or “thank you” are nice for a brief moment — before they’re tossed in the trash. Generic holiday posts on social media are hardly compelling, and, of course, the compulsory year-end mass email has zero impact.

How do smart leaders close out the year with the biggest impact? What’s the most valuable gift you can give? 

Before your team scurries off in to shopping mall hell for last minute gifts, food and obligatory holiday stress, why not take a few minutes to reflect on 2017 and recount the highlights? Perhaps the most valuable gift of all — a sense of pride and lasting fulfillment — comes from asking these questions.

  1. What was your proudest moment in 2017?
  2. What were your most significant accomplishments?
  3. Who had the most positive impact on you this year?
  4. What’s the one thing you learned this year that contributed to your success?
  5. Who are the top 30 people you want to honor, acknowledge and thank for their partnership, collaboration, inspiration and support? (30 might sound like a lot. It is, but it stimulates meaningful reflection. It also generates a deep sense of gratitude and strengthens relationships.)

Instead of cookies and eggnog (OK while gaining calories in your favorite way), why not invite your team to respond to one or more of these questions? Ask them to write their answers on a smart board, white board or flipchart pages. For people who are more creative, encourage a 1-minute selfie video on your intranet or video wall. Illustrations, cartoon strips or collages of 2017’s highlights will generate energy and bring out the best in everyone.

The point here is, the most effective way to honor people and demonstrate you care is to help give them a sense of pride and fulfillment. What better way to end the year and set the stage for raving engagement and peak performance beginning January 2018?

Will you end the year with a ROAR of purpose and passion? Look how people have been ROARING with me.

To my top 30, my gratitude and appreciation for your kind word, invitation to keynote, referral, collaboration or inspiration that helped me end 2017 with a sense of pride and fulfillment.  You know who you are!