I find myself getting frustrated with New Year's resolutions. Time and time again, it feels like the same thing. The fault seems not to be in the desire to change and do better, or even in a lack of follow through and lasting motivation. Though these things can trip us up, I think, ultimately, the problem of new year's resolutions comes down to a failure to set out with good goals.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the goals we set are not clearly defined, are not measurable, actionable, or achievable. We set ourselves up for failure from the beginning because we, in setting these amorphous and conceptual goals, remove the chance for accountability - either to ourselves or others.
We fail to set goals we can measure and actually achieve.
So leaders, not only is this an exercise in futility, but it is an exercise in frustration. If you want to start the new year off on the right foot, start by setting the right goals. These are actionable, achievable leadership goals that will allow you to see and feel progress.
7 Meaningful Resolutions in Leadership Development
1) Support professional development.
One of the best ways leaders can use their time is in guiding their team to achieve their professional goals. This is often in aiding in personal and professional development. While this can seem like a very undefined goal, you can help define it by sitting one-on-one with team members or key players in your company or organization and asking targeted questions to identify critical areas of growth.
This also means sacrificing some time and even regular productivity for training sessions, conferences, and workshops so that your team can “level up” and develop their skills. Make room to give feedback and reflect on each of these activities. Make room for these necessary moments, even if they may seem like a waste of time and money. Studies show that investing in professional development is well worth the cost.
2) Make better collaborative decisions.
Two heads may be better than one, but how easily do two heads make a decision? How about ten heads? While we know there is great value in bringing multiple voices to the table, we also know that things can get messy when rubber meets the road and when it's time to actually make a decision.
One of the best ways to prevent your team from getting stuck in the next year is to implement a new decision-making process that eliminates the things that continue to stall your forward momentum.
Define your purpose. If you know what you want to accomplish, it make choosing a solution that much more clear.
Define criteria for a solution. If you know what terms must be satisfied, you will be more equipped to choose a solution.
Develop alternatives. Once you have a primary solution, your team should come up with several solutions that satisfy the criteria as alternatives.
Select the best option and begin developing an attack plan, including timelines and breakdowns of tasks and responsibilities.
Through this process, you will find that the solutions you develop will fit into carefully selected criteria, alternatives will exist in case of trouble, and mechanisms are in place to record results, encourage action, and duplicate success.
3) Hold meetings that count.
How much time do you waste in meetings? I wager it's a lot. One of the things you can start doing now is hold meetings that count. Stop wasting time - whether it's that of your team's or your own.
That means, before you hold meeting, you ask yourself if you really need a meeting to communicate the information. Can this be done through a email or phone call? Who really needs to be there? Then ask yourself questions like, how much time do I need to adequately prepare? What is the goal and purpose of the meeting? What do I want to communicate most? What are the essentials? Break your meetings notes down into a written outline that you then flesh out.
Knowing your purpose and goals will help you stay on track and communicate only what is needed.
4) Act against under-performance.
Sometimes, we can, as leaders, make excuses for under-performance. It may be a lack of experience, seniority, or personal issues that cause us to make these excuses, but regardless, they have no place in our businesses and professional endeavors. When trying to lead others, under-performers can bring down the morale and drive of others. Chronic under-performance hurts your outcomes and it must be dealt with.
Does this mean you kick them to the curb? Not necessarily. It might mean sitting down and having a close conversation about what's going on, or working on professional development. It means not fixing or covering up bad work, but instead exposing it and letting under-performers feel the weight of their actions...or inaction.
5) Plan your next move.
If you're at the top in your organization, this may not apply to you. However, for some in places of leadership, feeling as though you are too indispensable where you are can prevent you from moving forward. Because you feel as though you can't be replaced, you are unable to gain traction where you are really meant to be, or where you can truly thrive as a leader or in your career overall.
Start making a plan of succession. Even if you don't plan to act on it now or even in the near future, just knowing that you could leave and move up or move on can free you up to do more and carve out your own path. This allows you to own your personal career journey, rather than solely acting for the sake of the company.
6) Brush up on my financial literacy skills.
We would all do well to brush up on our money management skills. As we move into the new year, there is no better time to do so. The more intimately acquainted you are with your own finances, be they personal or that of your business, the better equipped you will be to make wise decisions. Money truly does make the world go ‘round, and knowing how these things work in greater detail will be more helpful than you think.
7) Make time to learn new things.
This is perhaps one of the simplest things you can do, but one of the more difficult to accomplish. Learn something new. Dedicate yourself to a continuing education. Not only is this good for your brain and health, it's good for business. Maybe you don't want to go as far as taking extra university courses, but you can start by listening to educational podcasts on your commute instead of music. You can pick up a book instead of binging on Netflix.
Join a website that teaches new skills. Learning new things can help you lead, but it can also keep you sharp.
No matter what resolutions you choose to make, the key in making them effective is in holding yourself accountable. How do you do that? Give yourself deadlines. Write down specific tasks and instructions on how you will do things differently than you’ve done them before. When you have a new way to execute things, it’s harder to do things the only way.
Resolutions demand resolve.
Be a better leader in the new year.
What steps will you take? Share your resolutions in the comments.