Polish your leadership prowess in the new year. Tackle these 5 business issues to rise to the top of your game.

You’re a great manager. You get results, you work hard, you put a lot into your team. Where do you go from here?

As you think about what the future has in store for you, tackle these issues to be a better leader:



1. Choose Your Challenge: What do you need to face, but haven’t? What’s going on that requires a new approach or more effort? What are the personal limits that are getting in the way of what you should be doing?

Common challenges are tied to managerial effectiveness (i.e. prioritization, decision-making, scope of the job), inspiring and developing employees, and leading a team. It’s time to define your key leadership challenge and choose to do something about it.

But don’t go it alone. Bring in other people to help you understand the challenge and offer ideas and support.


2. Stop Defeating Innovation: If you and your fellow leaders have been touting innovation, take a moment to consider that you may be sending mixed messages. Innovation needs direct support — but it can also be sabotaged by routine leadership behaviors.

Ask yourself: Do I say “be creative,” but quickly quash new ideas? Do I push innovation top-down versus through a bottom-up, “pull” approach? Do I act like I already have all the answers? Do I critique before an idea can evolve?

Maybe it’s time to learn more about leading in ways that foster innovation.


3. Get a Grip on Change: If you’re looking ahead to a major change, recovering from one, and/or handling varying levels of continuous change, give yourself a refresher on how to lead change.

If you’ve been applying old models or the same change mindset to your work, you and team will benefit from some new research and thinking. Guiding change involves managing your own change behaviors, dealing with employees’ reactions, and effectively handling the mechanics of change.

If you want a place to start, focus on communication, collaboration, and commitment.


4. Invest in First-Time Managers: First-time managers face a unique set of challenges when they make the switch from individual contributors to leading others — challenges that can plague them for years or cause them to derail. Research by CCL’s William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders, has shown first-time managers struggle the most with communication, influence, leading teams, and developing others.

If you have a pool of new managers — or some who have been floundering in a front-line leadership role — give them the gift of leadership development. Coach them, line up a mentor, and seek out courses, books, and online resources geared to their specific needs.


5. Take Care of Yourself: A relentless focus on doing more and being more is not sustainable. Burnout is both a personal problem and an organizational liability. Think about your workload — what work can you shift or what routines can you put in place to be more effective? Pay attention to how much and how well you sleep, exercise, and eat.

Also, give your brain some love. Stop ruminating. The mental process of thinking over and over about something and attaching negative emotions to it — rumination — creates stress symptoms and is the enemy of resilience.

Or, add cognitive health to your workout. A healthy brain works at full capacity, allowing us to do tasks such as pay attention, make decisions, and remember our experiences. But like our bodies, if we don’t keep our brains in shape, they don’t work quite so well. Add activities into your life to help you learn actively, breathe better, and solve problems.


Whether you make small changes or a major overhaul, you’ll feel better, think better, and lead better in the next year!

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