Each year about this time, I begin to focus intently on the upcoming year. I reflect on the past twelve months and strategize about how to make the next year more impactful. My conclusion, time and time again – there is no magic pill – only hard work will suffice. However, if I had a magic wand, I would grant myself the power to do the following…
Think others first. This is the genesis of servant leadership. If I slip into the quicksand of self, I will not lead for long. People want to follow a leader who has their best interests at heart. Servant leaders don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less often.
Be more courageous – daily. Courage is the catalyst for leadership. Without courage, it is impossible to lead well. I’ll not wait until the big opportunity. Courage, when absent on a daily basis, will ensure the big moment will never appear. I will continue to pursue the courageous path.
Own mistakes and share praise. I will not blame others – the best leaders don’t. They have high levels of personal responsibility. I’ll also be quick to give praise. This single resolution, if honored, will help me and you earn the respect of those we lead.
Defeat pessimism in my life. Pessimism is cancer for a leader. It will destroy our influence. As Napoleon said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” We must be able to see a preferred future and believe we can help create it. People don’t rally to be part of a future created by pessimists.
Learn something every day. Leaders are learners – period. If I stop learning, my leadership journey is over. It may be a while before it actually ends, but it’s like cutting down a living tree - the tree will still have leaves on the branches for a while, but the tree is already dead – even if it doesn’t know it yet.
Walk the talk. I’m not perfect, not by a long shot. However, the people we lead don’t really expect perfect. What they expect, and deserve, is the integrity that comes with attempting, on a daily basis, to align our words and our actions. People always watch the leader.
Value people and results.The best leaders value results and relationships. Most of us have a natural bias towards one or the other. To get the results we desire, we must value both the people and their production. If you can get results without others, you're not leading.
Solve critical performance issues. When we focus time, energy and resources on our problems or opportunities, we make progress. This applies to my life, the team and the organization. We must separate the superficial from the critical. To solve the wrong problem produces limited benefits, at best.
Focus on individual team members – not just the team. Each member of the team is unique. What motivates and inspires one is not always the same for the next. Managers strive to treat people the same - leaders treat people differently.
Fight the gravitational pull of today. My role, and yours, is to create the future. I must invest enough time and mental energy to see it, marshal the resources to fund the journey and help chart the course to make it a reality. Be careful... without focused effort, today always pushes out tomorrow.
Magic wand or not, these are the activities that will make me a better leader in 2015. Now, I must decide how to turn these aspirations into practice. Until Harry Potter shows up to assist me, I'll have to invest focused time, energy and effort in order to make progress.
How about you? What will help you be a better leader in 2015? What is your plan to make it happen?[GLS_Shield]