By Chris R. Stricklin
Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
As 2014 came to a close, so did another chapter of our lives. Written are 365 more days of our leadership, our influence and impact on others. Before we look to 2015 to develop our #LeadershipResolutions, we must first debrief the recently closed annum. Take some time. Like a fighter pilot after a combat sortie, sit with your wingmen and determine what went right, what went wrong, what could have been done better and which mission objectives were achieved or missed. This is the first and most critical step in improving performance in the coming year.
Once the debrief is complete, mission planning must begin to ensure higher levels of success in the fresh, new year. So, what is a New Year’s Resolution? Cambridge Dictionary tells us it is a promise to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad. Whether government dictated resolutions, weird resolutions or the Ten Resolutions the Most Successful People Make and Keep, they all have one common theme: Inward Focus! As leaders, we must direct our focus outward, toward the organizations and people we are charged to lead. This will ensure adherence to these fresh new goals as well as enabling success.
1. Lead by Presence, not by Prominence
Show up. This is the easiest and simplest step to leadership improvement. Don’t let your prominence dictate your presence in a room. Be the leader who will roll up their sleeves and get in the assembly line of progress. Talk to your team, don’t simply stand with your team while focusing your attention to the Blackberry in your hand. Every person you talk to should feel like the most important person in the room. Always give your undivided attention to the conversation you are in and to the person or persons with whom you are interacting. Realize the best conversationalists know you should talk 20% and listen 80%. Effective leaders follow this same equation.
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
2. Elevate your Team
Remember that a leader does not try to elevate himself above his peers, but brings honor and distinction to them. Vow to recognize the successes of your followers. Be more perceptive of their efforts and actions, notice the small things they do every day. Remember that a leader who builds an organization singularly dependent on them for success, has failed. A leader who develops leaders to replace them creates a lasting legacy and clear path to success.
3. Question Everything
Don’t change for change sake. Embrace new ideas, new methods and always question the assumptions which define your business model. Instill in the culture of the organization a mentality that positive change is vital to the improvement of the team and continued success. Allow your experts, the people who do the job every day, to seek improvements to the processes and procedures which define their daily routine.
4. Empower not Enable
Enabling involves excessive assistance which reinforces nonproductive behavior, while empowering actively engages individuals in their own development and improvement. A manager enables their team to perform the behavior and actions which maintain the status quo, a leader empowers their team to reach their full potential, to achieve their goals and to take the organization to higher levels of success.
True leadership is not found in an individual, but the individuals developed.
5. Exude Passion
Be genuinely passionate about what you have the opportunity to do every day. This passion must be genuine, never be faked. If you are passionate about your mission, your organization, your team…this will affect and infect those you lead. This will improve their job satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and dedication to the success of the team.
6. Be a Values-Based Leader
Values shape beliefs and behavior. Renowned #Leadership Guru Shawn Murphy reminds us that the habits of values-based leaders sharpen the clarity of personal values and uphold our courage to follow them. As a values-based leader, make your personal values public knowledge, and stick to them. Being a values-based leader will ensure a firm basis of trust in your team, and will allow those you lead to understand the basis on which you routinely make decisions.
7. Be a Human-Centered Leader
Further, Shawn highlights that a human-centered leadership philosophy places significant importance on connectedness and integrity in relationships. It redefines the priority of people’s needs, placing them first above self-interest. This method of leadership will incite intrinsic motivation, build the organization into a team dependent on the success of each member to achieve organizational success.
8. Be the Leader You Want Leading You
How do we best focus our leadership evolution? By striving to become the leader we want to follow. By not exhibiting the manners of those leaders who did not motivate us to achieve success. We focus our deliberate development by developing followers’ aspirations, enabling their success, and empowering them with the freedom and confidence to achieve more than they ever dreamed. To evolve as a leader, you must first mature as a follower. Through your actions to those you follow, set the example for those who follow you.
The First Step
So, what makes this list of #LeadershipResolutions different from the 60.4 million returns when you Google “Leadership resolutions”? They are outward-focused. They are not the usual, selfish, individual-focused list of goals which we will only disappoint ourselves when we fail. They involve the success of our followers, of our organizations, of our teams. If we stop striving for these #LeadershipResolutions, then we fail those whom we are charged to lead.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Confucius presented this insight almost two thousand years ago as he devoted his whole life to learning and teaching for the purpose of transforming and improving society. Along these lines, and with the simple belief that all human beings can benefit from self-cultivation, we must establish our #LeadershipResolutions for 2015 with extrinsic focus. Set goals to improve our demeanor not for the goal of self-improvement, but for the ultimate goal of improving those around us. As a better leader.
The mentality developed by the 8 #LeadershipResolutions above will refine us as leaders, improve those around us and allow unimaginable success. This will guide us down the path of the world’s most powerful leadership principle…being a servant leader.
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