At ConantLeadership, we’re committed to lifelong learning and continuous improvement. In service to your leadership growth, each month we curate the Leadership That Works Newsletter, a digest of timely resources from around the web. We prepare this resource in order to:
- Share actionable advice from top leadership luminaries
- Celebrate a range of viewpoints (inclusion is not an endorsement)
- Contextualize workplace trends through a leadership lens
- Illuminate cultural recalibrations in the world of work
- Support your personal development in life, leadership, and beyond
In this month’s Leadership That Works Newsletter: All the best leadership advice for 2024 including how to live your best life, create better relationships, lead people more effectively, manage uncertainty, enrich your brain, choose your priorities, and more. As always, we’re sharing the content from our newsletter here on our blog in case you’re not subscribed to our mailing list. If you find these links enriching, you can sign up to receive our newsletter right here.
It’s common sense that running a business without a strategy can be disastrous. But what about leading a life? The authors of this Harvard Business Review article say it’s wise to apply the principles of corporate strategy to devising a plan for living well. In particular, they advise that bringing strategic thinking to planning your future helps you better navigate adversity—”building resilience and finding more joy and fulfillment while minimizing stress.” They recommend seven key steps guided by the following questions.
1. How do I define a great life?
2. What is my life purpose?
3. What is my life vision?
4. How do I assess my life portfolio?
5. What can I learn from benchmarks?
6. What portfolio choices can I make?
7. How can I ensure a successful, sustained life change?
To explore the steps in greater detail and use the authors’ one-pager strategy worksheet, get the full story here.
**For more on this, explore The Blueprint process, a six-step guide for envisioning your boldest dream of leadership success and life fulfillment including prompts for reflection and a companion workbook.
“Small nuggets of advice can sometimes lead to big changes in relationships,” writes Catherine Pearson in this New York Times end-of-year roundup of the best advice for improving relationships in the new year. Pearson shares nine easily applicable tips and we’ve included the five that are most relevant to leadership below.
1. Beware of ‘phubbing.’ Phubbing is a portmanteau of “phone” and “snubbing” and refers to “glancing at your phone when someone is talking to you,” which severs connection.
2. In conflict, avoid generalizations. “Phrases like ‘you always . . .’ or ‘you never . . .’ are exaggerations, and they make others defensive.
3. Never underestimate the power of a compliment. People may worry about issuing compliments for fear of “sounding awkward or coming off as insincere,” but “compliments are usually much more welcome that we expect” and deepen connection.
4. When dealing with challenging personalities, focus on what you can control. Ask yourself: “If this person didn’t change anything about themselves or their behavior, what, if anything, could I do to make the relationship different?”
5. When someone is upset, ask one simple question. Different situations require different kinds of support. To diagnose how you can be most effective, ask some variation of “Do you want to be helped, heard, or hugged?” Essentially, you want to ask a question that identifies “How can I meet your needs?”
Get the full story here.
**For more on this, explore our 2022 post, “Empathy Is the Secret Source of Connection.”
This new U.S. News & World Report survey of over 4,000 people has identified the leadership traits that are most valued by the American public. Overwhelmingly, “Americans want leaders who are ‘trustworthy’ above all else,” and this result is “universal across a range of demographic breakdowns, including by gender, race, generation, household income, political party, urbanicity, and geography.” The additional data also offers a revealing formula for effective leadership in the new year. The survey found the following top ten leadership traits to be the most important to adults in the United States.
Get the full story here.
In this blog post by Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) CEO, Daryl Brewster, he shares that a recent poll shows leaders heading into the new year with a complicated mix of both uncertainty and optimism. How to tackle the great unknown amidst conflicting attitudes? Brewster says “companies need to navigate this foggy complexity using their guiding light: their corporate purpose.” And he shares five focus areas and reminders for leaders looking to “get a return on purpose” in 2024.
1. Purpose matters more than ever. “Purpose-driven companies achieve stronger business results.”
2. Material risk factors: Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) isn’t the problem. The way we talk about it is. “Regardless of the debate and concern about the term ESG, leading companies are still engaged in the practices around the work and following regulations.”
3. Changing workforce: Embrace Governance, Diversity, and Employee Engagement. “Embracing the changing workforce can boost company culture and improve companies’ bottom line.”
4. Take action now to drive performance. “Leading companies focus on enduring, long-term value creation—including purpose and measurement—as they assess both risks and opportunities.”
5. Political divide: Find common ground. “Despite partisanship, companies can focus on where we agree, and move these issues from being contentious to common ground.”
Get the full story here.
**For more on this, explore our library of resources about the power of purpose.
In a world that is increasingly moving towards automation and AI, a human touch can make your leadership stand out in the crowd. Corporate advisor Craig Mullaney, in this NikkeiAsia piece, explains how the Japanese “omotenashi” mindset, which focuses on “anticipating other people’s needs and creating memorable experiences for them” may be the key to a competitive advantage in 2024. At its heart, Mullaney says omotenashi is about “anticipation,” and involves “a sincere and authentic form of service without thought of reward.” He says the mindset is also about “reciprocity” and being “otherful,” which “focuses on what you are doing for someone else” and transcends the virtue of merely being “selfless.” Mullaney adds that practicing omotenashi helps leaders meet customer and employee desires for meaningful connection—and encourages employee engagement and retention by moving away from purely transactional relationships. To get started, he says you can treat “the next person who walks in the door like an honored guest,” and view each interaction as an opportunity to “create a lasting memory.” Get the full story here.
**For more on this , explore our post on the “otherful” practice of asking “How Can I Help?”
The authors of this McKinsey piece on CEO priorities for 2024 have talked to hundreds of CEOs this year and, based on those conversations, are “pleased to offer what we’ve heard about how companies can do better for society, communities, and employees —and the prosaic business of how they can pay for it all, and reward investors too.” The eight focus areas for CEOs in the coming year, based on research and dialogue with business leaders, are below.
1. Generative AI: The start of something big. With AI, CEOs need to understand “which parts of the business can benefit, how to scale from one application to many, and how the new tools will reshape their industry.”
2. Outcompeting with technology. If they haven’t already, CEOs should do “the fundamental organizational rewiring needed to extract maximum value from the hard work of digitizing the enterprise.”
3. The energy transition: Time is short. “What needs to happen is the creation of thousands of new green-technology businesses, in every part of the emerging business system.”
4. What’s your superpower? CEOs should know what makes their business special: “A distinctive capability can lift a company out of the mire of clogged, commoditized markets and on to the high ground of performance.”
5. Learn to love your middle managers. “Companies need to rethink their philosophy about middle managers and recognize them for what they actually are: the core of the company.”
6. Geopolitics: Beating the odds. “Events have an uncanny way of defying the expectations of experts,” so CEOs should consider both the probable and unpredictable in their forecasts “and build geopolitical resilience that will serve them well, no matter which side of the coin comes up.”
7. Navigating the road to courageous growth. “Growth is always job one for CEOs, but the path to get there is never clear.” To help, McKinsey shares ten rules of growth to keep in mind for 2024.
8. A new lens on the macroeconomy. “Nearly four years after COVID-19 rewrote history, some CEOs are still waiting for macroeconomic certainty. That’s unlikely to happen—and that’s OK. Leading firms capitalize on uncertainty: they assess their risk appetite, then invest near the bottom of cycles.”
Get the full story, including statistics, examples, and supplementary materials, here.
1. Begin from your strengths rather than your weaknesses. “People don’t tend to grow or accomplish the goals they set for themselves from a place of deficiency or fear that they aren’t good enough.” Instead, “set aside the things you’d like to change about yourself and focus on the unique gifts you bring to the world.”
2. Think about what makes you feel alive or at peace. “If none of your unique attributes are obvious to you, reflect on times you’ve felt passion in your life, or when you’ve felt a peaceful sense of contentment.” Also, when have you felt “a sense of mystery, adventure, or magic? When did you feel a spark?”
3. Set an aspiration for how you’d like to live. “Can you think of a story or memory about yourself that illustrates some of the passions or unique attributes you’ve identified? What aspects of that story capture something unique about you?” Use that story to inform your aspirations.
Get the full story and a deeper explanation of each tip here.
**For more on this, check out our LinkedIn Learning course, “Finding Your Leadership Purpose with Doug Conant,” which helps you identify your unique values and beliefs through step-by-step instruction and reflection exercises.
The number of end-of-year book recommendations across the internet is limitless and sharing all of them would make this newsletter far too long so we’ve included a curated selection of three great book lists to inform your leadership reading in 2024.
The Next Big Idea Club‘s January 2024 Must-Read Books: The selection of awaited books listed here addresses a wide range of topics from leadership, to money management, to medical interventions, to AI, and more.
Gartner’s 9 Must-Read Business Books for 2024: Curated with a view towards guiding “your professional and personal development in the year ahead,” this list’s titles advance new ideas in “technology, leadership, and more.”
Inc.’s 4 Must-Read Business Books to Kick Off 2024: Whether your goals for 2024 include “making better decisions, developing a better business strategy, or handling conflicts more effectively, these four books will put you on the path to success.”
**For more advice to guide your leadership in 2024, treat yourself to a signed copy of The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights, available with free shipping in our web shop.
Insights & Resources from ConantLeadership
In this new blog resource from ConantLeadership, hear from two top CEOs who say optimism and courage are the key leadership competencies for shaping the future.
In this blog resource from ConantLeadership, learn why a top Microsoft executive says that leaders must be courageous in order to innovate in the modern age, and get tips for strengthening your “courage muscle.”
In this newly released conversation with Luminate podcast host, Lan Anh Vu, Doug Conant shares tips for becoming a better leader and finding greater fulfillment.
In last month’s newsletter: Purpose (finally) goes mainstream, small gratitude habits, the virality of ‘collective emotions,’ be a hero in your own story, avoid ‘ bore out,’ and more.