Happy New Year – 10 Resolutions for Better Leadership

Are you ready for the new year? Many use this time to reflect upon the past 12 months and identify ways to improve – often in the form of resolutions. To help with improving leadership, here are 10 resolutions you can adopt.

1. Every few days, express your gratitude for the positive acts of others.

Rather than waiting on formal recognition or some corporate recognition program to recognize the extraordinary, find the ordinary positive acts. Simply thank people in person, send a handwritten note of appreciation, or even during a team meeting, ask everyone to share something they are thankful for about the team. In The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner have the best chapters that I’ve read about recognition.

2. Listen better.

This is a skill that requires more than experience to develop. You need some serious help because we all can improve in this under-appreciated complex skill. Find specific tactics to improve. Try searching the Internet for ideas to become better at hearing others. James C. Hunter and Jason Jennings talk about listening in their books.

3. Obtain feedback about your leadership.

Whether asking superiors, peers, direct reports, or customers, seek the perception of others. We all have blindspots when it comes to our own performance. 360 Feedback is a great way to get started. Need a tool? There are several out there, but here’s a free one on my Nine Practices book webpage.

4. Become better at diagnosing problems.

Too often, we jump to solutions or treatments before obtaining enough relevant and accessible facts. Medical doctors who do this are charged with malpractice. Need a source? Check out ISPI.org for resources, local chapters, and conferences that focus on performance improvement.

5. Avoid the fundamental attribution error…

…as much as possible. We all do this when we observe the behaviors from strangers to those closest to us. We see something, make up a story whether accurate or not, and react to that story. According to VitalSmarts in their Crucial Accountability book, we’re not very good at creating accurate stories.

6. Learn how to influence better.

Relying on trial and error through experience is no way to learn how to influence. The way most influence, they try their single favorite technique to resolve complex behaviors, and that’s not enough to be effective. To influence effectively, you need to learn multiple techniques. VitalSmart wrote the leadership book on how to do this.

7. Do better at giving up Command and Control (C2).

If you’re in a position of authority, focus on sharing C2 rather than thinking of “empowering” others. By doing this right, you can engage others and tap into their underutilized creativity and innovative thinking. If you don’t understand what C2 means and how the new way to think about C2 is critical for operating in the 21st Century, Alberts and Hayes have the answer.

8. Rethink why your team exists.

Many may know what you do or even how you do it. Critically thinking about the “why” and the purpose of your team can lead to a higher level of commitment and refine what your team does. Sinek knows that new teams and organizations need to start by answering “why?”

9. Search outside of your organization for the next great idea.

This is called comparative needs analysis. By networking and discovering what others are doing well, you’ll find your next opportunity for your own team or organization. You might even find the talent – in the form of prospective candidates, consultants, or contractors – that can improve your team’s or organization’s performance. Kouzes and Posner write about the importance about searching outside of your team or organization.

10. Practice stewardship.

In 21st Century Leadership, the main focus is on improving others’ mentally and morally. While this obviously applies to those you work with, there is a higher calling to give back to your profession and community without seeking something in return. As Maxwell writes (around page 119…see also 162 about being a tour guide), we should practice stewardship not because we have something valuable to offer but because you believe that other people have value.

Published by

Gary A. DePaul, PhD, CPT

"I help organizations become more effective at leadership development." Gary A. DePaul is an expert on how leadership is radically changing. He has two decades of experience as a practitioner and scholar of leadership, has worked as a manager in fortune 500 companies, and consults with organizations to improve leadership practices. He completed his Ph.D. and Ed.M. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and a bachelor's degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). ISPI has designated him as a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT). https://www.garyadepaul.com https://twitter.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/garydepaul https://www.facebook.com/garyadepaul