This year has just about come to a close. The Type As among us are probably wrapping up their goals and planning for the new year (if they aren’t finished already). The rest will catch up. Maybe.
I saw a great post from Mark Miller last week on New Year’s resolutions for leaders – and it really challenged my thinking. I’m not sure what your leadership goals are for the new year, but if you haven’t thought about it, I’d suggest picking something from these ideas below.
Jack Welch made an observation in his book Winning that society and business generally seem to favor those who are energetic and extroverted above the rest. So where does that leave all the introverts (myself included)? Here’s a start: when you see something, say something. Whether it’s a safety concern, a new idea or simply providing your two cents’ worth, your voice will never be heard unless you take the opportunity to speak up.
2. Help Others Build Relationships
Nearly every organization struggles with poor communication, from top to bottom as well as sideways. One of the underlying factors I’ve found is that people simply don’t know each other. People who know each other are more likely to communicate and work well together. You may not be a social butterfly, but with a little initiative, you can still be a connector. Take a look at your network. Who do you know who needs to know someone else? What can you do to make an introduction?
3. Fight Off Pessimism
Pessimism – even under the guise of realism – will destroy your leadership influence. The reason is simple: no one wants to follow a pessimist. If you truly believe a project or initiative you are leading will fail, how can you expect anyone supporting you to believe differently? There is a direct relationship between expectations and results. Positive expectations get positive support which leads to positive results. Be an optimist.
4. Join a Cross-Functional Working Group
In any organization, there are generally three leadership opportunities: leading yourself, leading others and leading an organization. There is only so much room on the executive team, but a good way anyone can influence an entire organization is by joining a cross-functional working group. Instead of representing your function’s interests, you partner together to solve an organizational problem. And who knows, it could be great executive practice.
Dale Carnegie pointed out in How to Win Friends and Influence People that a smile is usually the first impression a person gives. In the business world, smiles lead to dollars because people prefer to do business with friendly people. A smile is the modern day game face. How’s yours?
6. Conduct an Experiment
Have you ever wanted to try something new, but felt you didn’t have the information you needed to know you would succeed? This over-reliance on research stymies people and organizations alike. Chip and Dan Heath propose an intuitive solution to this lack of action in their book Decisive. “Ooch.” Instead of waiting for all the data come in, conduct a small experiment to see if your idea can work. Why guess when you can know?
7. Learn Something New & Teach It to Others
Many organizations offer tuition assistance or provide a learning budget. Employees are sometimes required score a passing grade in the course to be eligible for reimbursement. But that’s usually where the expectation ends. The ROI on learning stays low unless people take the initiative to share what they’ve learned with others. If you engage in a development opportunity, host a lunch ‘n’ learn or ask for 15 minutes during your team meeting to spread the wealth of knowledge around.
7.5 Floss More
You haven’t gotten a lecture about flossing until you’ve gotten one from a high school buddy who is now a dentist. Maybe it’s not a leadership resolution per say, but my dentist friend told me recently that he always tells parents to floss in front of their kids because positive action examples are “more powerful than a million verbal reminders.” That’s a good leadership resolution for all of us: to set a positive example through our actions, whether flossing or anything else.
If you were to add another leadership resolution, what would it be?
Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader. Receive his latest updates by subscribing to his website or following him on Twitter.