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.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
You’ve undoubtedly been asked this rhetorical question before. Apparently how you answer is supposed to quickly reveal whether you are an optimist or a pessimist – and perhaps a lot more about your inner worldview.
I’m not sure what the “right” answer to the the glass question is – although I always think it should somehow depend on what’s in the glass to begin with. But when it comes to being an optimist, I’m am sure of this: optimists are in high demand.
“I don’t like to micro manage,” my friend lamented. “But even when I set clear expectations and deadlines, I find myself having to guide the entire process or else the ball gets dropped. Is that an employee issue or a leadership issue?”
It’s hard enough to want to delegate in the first place. Many leaders lack trust, are insecure or are control freaks. But once you get past those barriers, what happens when your followers can’t pull their weight? Let’s talk about a few ways managers can guide their projects so that everyone can contribute.
When I first began studying leadership years ago, I’d find myself in conversations when someone would invariably share a leadership challenge with me. Sometimes, I’d even know how to solve it. I’d usually reference a book or an idea I had recently studied. Sometimes in my enthusiasm, I’d even go out and purchase the resource for them. Unfortunately, when I followed up a few weeks later to find out what had happened, they had rarely bothered to look at what I had provided them.
Several years later, I got a lead role on a consulting assignment to develop a plan to significantly improve an organization’s corporate culture. In fact, I was told this was my chance to “really shape the project.” I spent the next few months analyzing employee survey data, referencing strategic plans and carefully crafting a solution. Finally I got to present my plan to a senior client in a boardroom meeting and was thrilled when he accepted it. Now it was time to get to work. But much to my chagrin, a bigger problem soon emerged: no one wanted to take responsibility for seeing the plan through.
These experiences confirmed for me a simple but poignant lesson: you can’t want something for other people more than they want it for themselves. It doesn’t matter how much you care if they don’t.