This is your moment to chart a better course — or even a new one. The best leaders are fueled by a sense of purpose and clear intention that keeps them going — even when things seem fuzzy. It’s not just about what you will do, but why and how. To lead fully in 2018, get clear on your intentions and get started. Look back at 2017: What did you do well as a leader? What could you have done better? Look ahead at 2018: What do you want to do differently this year? Look below to get clear on your intentions: Find what resonates, get clear next steps, and share what you intend to do — you’ll be more likely to follow through on it.
Change your leadership behavior for the better: 12 ideas
Be nimble when it comes to change.
Practice building new habits. The ability to deal with change sets successful leaders apart. Quickly adopt new practices, stick out the initial discomfort, and you’ll master uncertainty over time. Next steps: Shake things up a little to stay light on your toes. Try something new for 30 days. Pick a thing today. Start no later than tomorrow. Repeat.
Have better relationships at work.
Pay attention to what makes your work relationships tick. Noticing the small stuff helps you see things from different perspectives. And that extra dose of empathy can breed patience, positivity, and goodwill. Next steps: Get curious about your colleagues. Try these tips to cultivate empathy. Show active interest. And don’t forget to say thanks.
Get the team organized around a shared purpose.
Help the team work smarter, not harder. Every team can hit its groove when there’s a shared sense of how to work and what to work toward. Next steps: Test your knowledge of how the team works best by getting everyone on the same page. Set the ground rules together — then create a game plan that’s grounded in purpose.
Feel more comfortable in your leadership.
Develop more presence as a leader. It’s hard to be a leader if you feel like you’re not seen or heard. People respond to confidence and connection — remember, they want to be seen and heard, too. Next steps: Become a better observer of body language. Practice power poses to improve your confidence and notice what others’ postures are telling you.
Hesitate less. Less hemming. Less hawing.
Make more decisions to make better decisions. Effective and efficient decision making saves time and energy — and takes practice. Next steps: Timebox your decisiveness. When there’s a choice to be made, set a reasonable deadline to make it. Test your decision-making skillsfor extra insight.
Dig deep and get positive when morale is low.
Learn to draw silver linings on dark clouds. Seeing possibilities where others see hardship gives you the advantage — an upward boost when roadblocks stand in the way. Next steps: Rewrite your problems. List the top three challenges ahead for you and/or your team. List the opportunities each one presents. Believe.
Gain your team’s trust — and learn to trust them, too.
Get to know your colleagues as people. When everyone can show up as themselves, without fear of judgment, it frees them — and you — up to focus on what needs to be done and how best to contribute. Next steps: Make trust a baseline behavior. Set aside time to build relationships. Learn what each team member needs to succeed.
Show up strong, even when it’s not your forte.
Tap existing strengths to work on weaknesses. Shift your perspective to use your superpower(s) for your own good. Say your analytical skills make you seem critical of ideas — multiply your analyses to be generative and riff on alternatives. Next steps: Ask for help. Who’s good at what you’re trying to get good at? Get their take on what you could do.
Stop doing things the same old way.
Make it okay to make mistakes. Our missteps teach us more than our successes. Give yourself permission to try, to get it wrong, to do better next time. Next steps: Practice failing fearlessly. Make time to reflect on what’s been done, and schedule time to look back as a team — a retrospective or post-mortem might be a good way to start.
Say what needs to be said — clearly and directly.
Tackle hard truths instead of tap dancing around them. Mixed messages, however nice they sound, create confusion. Clear feedback can change the work and your relationships for the better. Next steps: Schedule time to share 1:1 feedback, using these best practices. Gauge your efforts in group settings by asking for post-meeting feedback.
Help the team grow, not just follow.
Step aside so others can step up. Let people admit what they don’t know and take ownership of what they do. You’ll encourage autonomy, collaboration, and individual growth. Next steps: Create a supportive dynamic with a team ritual — like a project kickoff where everyone can chime in or regular check-ins for tackling questions and celebrating progress.
Avoid so many extra hours and late nights.
Stop modeling martyrdom and be diligent about self-care. Burning the midnight oil doesn’t make you a better leader — it makes you a tired leader. Next steps: Make your calendar work for you. Late nights unavoidable? Be strategic to conserve time. Dedicate one evening for a weekly catch-up. Use it well. (It also helps to tackle time off as a team.)
Tips to keep yourself on track and keep your intentions in mind
- Write it down and put it where you can see it. Calendar events, computer desktops, sticky notes in places you can’t avoid — give yourself a visible reminder wherever works for you.
- Create rituals and habits that work with your life, not against it. Odds are you’re a busy person. Think about when you tend to have energy during the day, where you might find extra pockets of time, what could be done more efficiently or more thoroughly, etc. — and take it all into account as you find ways to follow through on your intention.
- Outsmart your inner cheater and find an accountability partner. When it comes to changing our behavior, sometimes the most effective thing we can do is ask someone else — someone who can observe our behavior and notice any changes — to help keep us honest about the goals we’ve set for ourselves.
- Talk to your users. A leader’s users are her team, manager, and organization. So get user feedback when you’re figuring out where you need to focus, and try user testing to validate when you think you’ve made progress. For instance, user feedback might be asking new colleagues what they may know or have heard about you. User testing might be asking others if they see what you see when you feel like you’re making strides.
- Audit your skills and behaviors. What got you into a leadership role isn’t always what will best serve you in it. Make time for regular self-assessment. What might you need to stop doing, keep doing, or start doing that you didn’t do before?
- Get existential about your leadership and ask big questions of yourself: Why am I a leader? Why am I here? Where am I trying to go? What kind of leader do I really want to become? How can I explore to figure that out? What’s motivating me? What might keep me from getting there?
Leaders follow through. Be more accountable. Share and declare your intention. Challenge others to do the same. #leadfully2018