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/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/leader1_176959.jpgHave you made a New Year’s resolution for 2013? Midway into January, have you been able to stick to your New Year’s resolution? Research has found that 45% of North American adults make New Year’s resolutions, but after 6 months only 46% have managed to keep their goals. Why is it that people struggle doing what they believe are the right things for them to be doing? Shouldn’t it be easy to do what is good for you?

Two years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to improve my overall health and wellness, and two years later I am happy to report that I have been able to keep my New Year’s resolution. I wish I could say that achieving and maintaining the goals have been easy, but I was only about 6 months in when I realized that to maintain these results would require a daily recommitment and that this would mean hard work on my part. The next thought that popped into my head was my mother’s voice telling me, “You have to work hard for anything in life that is worth having.”

Now you may be wondering what this had to do with leadership… my New Year’s resolution this year was to improve my own leadership efforts and to keep leadership at the top of the lengthy priority list I know we all face every day. I know that this will take hard work. We all know leadership is important, so this should be easy shouldn’t it? Unfortunately I know for myself and others that I have worked with, that while we all may aspire to be great leaders, often leadership is the first thing to slide when the many demands we are faced with each day begin to pile up. So how do you combat this and keep leadership as your #1 priority? Here are a few basic ideas to consider:

  1. Set an explicit goal, document it and communicate this commitment to your team. Research tells us that people who set hard goals are 10 times more likely to achieve them then those who do not set a goal. By communicating your goals to others, you increase your commitment even further, and frankly who the heck wants to have their team see them not achieving this goal once they have told them that they are going to improve their leadership this year? 
  2. Spend time defining what great leadership looks like to you and to those around you. By being clear on what you want to achieve, it will be easier to develop and practice the skills that you need to realize your vision. What are the behaviors that you want to demonstrate? What are the specific actions that you want to commit to?
  3. Build time into your calendar each day. We all can find 15 minutes in our day to have a conversation with a direct report in support of their development, offer feedback to a team member, or take the time to discuss the vision and the strategy to ensure alignment of your team’s activity to the company’s success. There are many simple and easy actions you can build directly into your day. Over time this will become part of your normal mode of operation and you will no longer need to schedule specific time.
  4. Listen… as leaders we often feel the need to have the answer to all questions and all problems right away. Instead of offering your advice or a solution immediately, ask questions and coach others to arrive at a solution. This will not only help your team to develop their skills and create an inclusive environment, it will improve your coaching and advising skills while bring new thinking and innovation into the team.
  5. Be clear on what motivates and engages you and then use this energy to inspire those around you. Do not underestimate the positive impact your energy and enthusiasm can have on your team. People want to be around those who are creating a fun and engaging atmosphere. They are more likely to follow positive energy and will feel more positive themselves. On the flip side, also remember what a negative attitude can do and the impact this can have on your leadership brand.

At the end of the day, doing what you know is right can be hard, but if you feel yourself starting to slip, just remember your mother’s voice encouraging you to work hard and do your best! Our Moms are always right, aren’t they?!

Follow Tracey on Twitter: @Tracey_Arnish

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  1. Stefan Funk

    Hi Tracey,

    Thank you very much for the great article and exceptional description of top behavioral priorities. From my perspective, one might extend your point of “listen” to “ask for feedback” for your leadership performance. Receiving feedback from your team and peers will also allow you shapen your leadership skills, especially when it comes to defining strategies, priorities and goals.

    Thanks again,

    Stefan

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