Seven New Year's resolutions for better leadership
Want your organization or department to be the very best it can be? This past year has been a tough one for many, but 2010 offers a fresh start. Here are seven resolutions to deepen and improve your leadership, not just for your own sake but for the sake of those you lead.
Approachability: An open-door policy, a suggestion box, an invitation delivered at an all-staff meeting to "come visit" -- even a memo promising folksy charm isn't the kind of approachability employees want from their leaders. Get out there! Don't sit back passively waiting for them to initiate contact; YOU have to do the approaching. And make it substantive.
Don't just stop by the desks of those you've never met and make small talk. Institute periodic breakfasts or lunches with hierarchically segmented groups, offering open and/or issue-specific agendas. Task each of your direct reports with keeping you informed about the challenges and achievements of their employees. When you later engage with those individuals, surprise and delight them with your awareness of their specific challenges. Resolve today to step out of your office and into the working lives of your employees.
Creativity: Are you and your employees pretty much depleted from the demands of 2009? Long hours, laid off colleagues, uncertain futures, low to no raises -- this can't go on, you know -- something has to give. Your employees may be assuming that work-flow or job design changes won't be considered; that productivity levels must be sustained despite reduced access to resources. Absent your explicit invitation for creative ideas to reduce workloads, you may never hear such ideas as reformatting deliverables, strategic abandonment, joint-venturing, portfolio workers, job sharing, virtual employment, etc. Resolve today to invite creative ideas from your employees on how to honor work/life balance.
Developing others: For most of us, potty training was our first experience with independence. How proud we were of ourselves when we learned that we could take personal responsibility for achieving a desired outcome! Just as clearing the many hurdles of the maturation process helped develop self confidence, meeting targeted business outcomes nourishes self esteem, enhances careers, and builds leadership capabilities. Are you dwarfing fledgling leaders by absolving them of accountability? Are you depriving them of a sense of achievement by intervening on their developmental flailing? I know it hurts to watch them struggle, particularly when you know the answers. But if you swoop in and save them, the "grown-up pants" will never fit them well. Resolve to develop confident, competent leaders by not providing answers or solutions. Instead, format constructive, critical feedback into Socratic questions so they have to deduce the lesson.
Levity: Humor is the weapon of the angels. Are you alert to and actively seeking "the lighter side?" Nothing shows more confidence under dire circumstances than a moment of wit or an amusing perspective -- so long as it's not at anyone's expense. I'm not suggesting that you become a comedian; just that you recognize the rallying effect of humor, and use it as the powerful leadership tool it is. Resolve to laugh at yourself at least once daily -- or better yet -- share a laugh about yourself with a different staff member every day.
Possibility: Leaders can be so absorbed in moving people and organizations from current state to desired state that they fail to inquire about "possible state." When was the last time you set aside time to just "wonder" together with your employees? Start sentences like "What could we do if...what next big step...what new idea...?" Resolve to engage your employees in possibility thinking.
Responsibility: Nope -- I'm not referring here to P&L, ethics, compliance, and other traditional leadership responsibilities. I'm assuming you're already shouldering those. Instead, I'm referring to an expanded set of responsibilities that require taking action to help the unfortunate, contribute to society, protect the earth, and more. Your role as leader not only requires you to model this behavior consistently, but also to foster it in others. Resolve to be conspicuous in exhibiting a sense of responsibility for the earth and its inhabitants. Better still: Create opportunities for your employees to do likewise.
Unity: This state of being can only be achieved when employees see themselves as essential contributors to shared goals. Every executive I've ever worked with is certain his or her employees know how their daily efforts contribute to larger outcomes, but often those employees say they feel disconnected from and incidental to what's really important. Unity isn't cognitive. Even if born of shared belief, unity is an emotional state, and it is palpable. It is built not through dogma or a series of completed transactions, but through a quality of leadership that resonates with those being led. Are you striving for mere compliance from your employees? Instead, resolve to lead in a way elicits their voluntary, unified commitment.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: shadowmagician | January 3, 2010 1:41 PM
Posted by: DwightCollins | January 3, 2010 12:09 PM
Posted by: P4Potomac | January 3, 2010 11:36 AM
Posted by: GordonShumway | January 3, 2010 10:35 AM
Posted by: shadowmagician | January 3, 2010 9:02 AM
Posted by: Logan1245 | January 2, 2010 1:50 AM
Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | January 1, 2010 11:39 PM
Posted by: eaglepeak | January 1, 2010 6:18 PM
Posted by: dreese_52 | January 1, 2010 4:29 PM
Posted by: shadowmagician | January 1, 2010 3:36 PM
The comments to this entry are closed.