You can’t predict everything that will happen in 2018, but it’s a safe bet that change and uncertainty will continue to be major themes. It’s also a safe assume that leadership — your leadership — will be critical for a successful year. With that in mind, here are 10 leadership resolutions for the coming year.
Stay healthy. We know you hear this a lot around the New Year, and you probably think about it more, too. Your personal performance — and therefore your effectiveness as a leader — are heavily influenced by your health.
Healthier people have more energy, can think more clearly, focus for longer periods, and are less likely to get sick. There are 4 key practices:
- Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet.
- Get adequate, high-quality sleep.
- Engage in physical activity regularly.
- Manage pressure so it doesn’t turn into negative stress.
Related article: 4 Components of Good Health That Enhance Leadership
Succeed at digital learning. Being a leader doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Leaders must continue to acquire new skills, new areas of knowledge, and new leadership tools.
With limited time and resources, some of that learning will take place via digital learning. So how can you make the most of your time?
First, make sure you commit. Set real deadlines and block out time on your calendar.
Second, just practice the new skill or find a way to apply your new knowledge. Real learning doesn’t happen until you actually use it.
And third, celebrate your success. This reinforces the value of ongoing learning.
Related article: How to Succeed as a Digital Learner
Stop wasting time in meetings. We’ve all complained about time spent in a meeting that just wasn’t worth it. So how can you make sure that the meetings you set are productive? Here are 3 tips to start:
- Only hold a meeting if it’s necessary. Can this be handled via email?
- Make sure all attendees are really present. Invite only those required and enforce behavior standards to keep everyone engaged.
- Decide in advance what the purpose of the meeting will be and how you’ll achieve its goals.
Related article: Stop Wasting Time: Use These 3 Characteristics of Mindful Meetings
Make better group decisions. We’ve all heard — and many of us have said — that several minds are better than one. But actually making good decisions as a group is challenging.
Here’s how groups can make better decisions about things such as work processes:
- Define the task.
- Choose the best fit for decision making.
- Set decision-making criteria.
- Brainstorm at least 3 alternatives.
- Select the best alternative using the agreed-upon method.
- Develop action plans.
- Take action.
- Evaluate decision effectiveness.
- Repeat until complete.
Related article: How to Make Better Group Decisions and Avoid Common Mistakes
Support your employees in their development efforts. Professional development is important for everyone on your team. Our research has found that the primary predictor of the success of leadership development programs is the degree to which participants’ bosses support them.
So how can you support your people?
- Set the stage for an effective program by discussing with your direct reports their goals — areas they should focus on and how they can get the most out of each opportunity.
- Give them permission to focus fully on the training by allowing them to fully disengage from normal responsibilities.
- Find out what support they’ll need when they return.
- Follow up after the training by meeting with your team members to discuss what they learned, how they’ll apply it and what you can do to continue supporting them.
Related article: How Bosses Can Support Their Employees Development
Lead your team through change. Change is the one thing we can be certain of. For leaders, it’s also a virtual certainty you’ll need to lead your team through change.
Even when leaders and organizations know what the change is, they may still hesitate, fail to act, or act slowly. Here’s how to overcome the inertia:
- Know what you want to achieve.
- Observe the current state of your team or organization.
- Accept that this is where things are and that change won’t happen unless you take action.
- Communicate your intent and why — again, again, and again.
- Demonstrate your personal commitment to the change.
- Offer a better vision based upon your intent.
- Reward those who move forward.
Related article: How to Take Control and Lead Your Team Through Change
Leading the Organization
Help frontline managers master their roles. In most organizations, frontline managers are critical.
A recent McKinsey study found that more than 70% of senior managers were unhappy with frontline manager performance, and more than 80% of frontline managers are dissatisfied with their own performance.
The first step in fixing this problem is to understand what skills frontline managers need. There are 6 they should master to be effective:
- Political savvy
- Learning agility
- Influencing outcomes
- Communication skills
- Motivating others
These 6 skills should form the core of development programs for frontline managers.
Related article: What Frontline Leaders Need to Succeed
Create an environment where women can excel. Research shows that gender diversity benefits the bottom line. So how can your organization attract and retain more women? The first step is to understand what ambitious, talented women want from employers.
Women want to find their calling. That is, they want their jobs to connect with their values and purpose.
Women want flexibility in where, when, and how they work. Women rated paid-time off and flexible schedules as 2 of the most valuable benefits.
Women want real leadership opportunities. But women are more wary of some leadership opportunities, perhaps because research suggests that they’re more likely to be offered roles with fewer resources or high-stakes, high-risk opportunities.
Related article: What Do Successful and Talented Women Want From Work?
Understand and manage millennials. For all the commentary about millennials, younger workers are not a mysterious tribe that can’t be understood or managed by older leaders. Here’s what you need to know:
- Millennials place a high value on their team, boss, mentors, and friends at work. They want to feel like their managers genuinely appreciate them. They also want their managers to coach and mentor them.
- Millennials want work to be interesting and meaningful — but they don’t want to be plugged in 24/7. Work-life balance is also important.
- Millennials want to grow. They’re interested in opportunities for development, promotion, and feedback. They want to advance, and they want help doing so.
Related article: How to Understand and Manage Millennials at Work
Nurture innovation instead of squashing it. Innovation is important, but few companies are really good at it. Why? In part because leading innovation is different from leading ongoing business operations.
Managers and individual contributors responsible for innovation need more emotional support to take the risks and give innovation efforts all their knowledge, skill, and energy.
Leaders must practice 3 critical behaviors to support innovators:
- Demonstrate trust in innovators to empower them.
- Keep the purpose of the innovation front-and-center to motivate, inspire, and focus innovators.
- Partner with innovators as equals to contribute and share the risk.
Related article: How Leaders Can Successfully Drive Innovation
If you can keep these goals in mind, or bookmark this list and come back to it, you’re bound to have a more successful and rewarding year!