Continuous improvement is at the heart of leadership that works and at the center of a fulfilling life. To help with the transition to a new year filled with fresh challenges and opportunities for growth, we’ve compiled our list of leadership resolutions for 2018. Our guiding theme for the new year is: INTENTION. How much can we maximize our impact by adding just a little more discipline and forethought to our leadership? In the spirit of pro-activity, we hope these goals for 2018 will empower you to lift your leadership to new heights and lead your most productive, meaningful, and fulfilling year yet — with intention. Each resolution links to an article or two we’ve posted in the past year that helps bring the lesson to life. Enjoy! (For further inspiration — check out our list of resolutions for 2017 and 2016).
In 2009, Doug Conant was in a near-fatal car accident. In the recovery journey that followed he learned some crucial lessons about leadership. The most important takeaway? Always ask, “How can I help?” Remember, people are often steeped in the same complex web of challenges that we are as leaders. They get just as many e-mails, texts, and phone calls. They have just as many kids, cousins, parents, spouses, religious groups, book clubs, to-do lists, vendors, colleagues, babysitters, and bank statements vying for their attention and depending on them to not drop the ball. Sometimes, all they need is for their leaders to simply show up at their side when the chips are down – letting them know that as a leader, you are right there with them, and that you are willing to help them do whatever it takes to get the job done. Approaching leadership with a “How can I help?” attitude really can, and does, make all the difference. To make a bigger impact in 2018 by helping often and earnestly, read more here.
Often, when you’re the leader, it can feel like the whole world rests on your shoulders. That feeling can easily be compounded when things go awry or become particularly stressful. Instead of retreating inward and causing yourself more stress by letting counter-productive thoughts creep in about how you’ve failed, or how the task is proving impossible because it’s all up to you — choose to stop this self-pity-party dead in its tracks and just ask for help. It’s a simple, better choice you can make in the new year. Some leaders are reticent to ask for help because they’re fearful it diminishes their ability to problem-solve or will somehow make them appear weak or unequipped. But it’s not so. In 2018, try to remember that the people depending on you likely care less about how you get the job done and more that it’s handled with integrity and executed well. Think of how much more you can get done in the new year if you smartly leverage your network to solve tough problems instead of burning out because you try to do it all yourself. Want to learn strategies for asking for help? Explore our post with four key points about asking for help here.
Leadership that works is not a destination; it’s an ongoing journey, made up of many moments and choices over time. Each decision you make has an effect on your overall character. If you practice making better choices, those choices become habits, and those good habits have the power to transform your leadership. Ultimately, we become what we repeatedly do. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to do a little better today than you did yesterday. By adding even a small amount of effort and discipline to tweaking the habits in your day-to-day routine, you can greatly alter the cumulative impact on your leadership legacy. To help, we identified the 5 key traits of a highly effective leadership habit. To maximize your impact — whenever possible, simply choose (even in the smallest way) to behave in a way that is more aligned with these 5 positive traits.
Meetings. We may not like them but they are an indispensable part of modern work life and they’re essential to getting things done. To transform meetings from a slog into a structured opportunity to move things forward, it helps to have to have a clear process for managing them properly. Because meetings are a significant part of a CEO’s life, Doug Conant has developed very clear rules and guidelines for meetings over the course of his 40-year leadership journey. He’s crafted these into a manifesto that can help leaders add discipline to ensure each meeting is as productive as possible. Check out his actionable CEO tips for holding better meetings here and advance your organization’s agenda more effectively in 2018.
Leadership is the art and science of influencing others — often people working as a unit in teams. As we strive to responsibly cultivate our influence with teams, and earn their trust, we must first be able to identify what the key components of highly-functioning teams are. If you can assemble a team that gets things done, and does so with integrity, it is deeply fulfilling to watch as everybody works together to shoot the lights out. But it can be tricky to get the balance exactly right. Many leaders struggle with this so it’s a huge competitive advantage to gain a better understanding of the ingredients to a successful team. We’ve learned that a great team boils down to three key things. You can cultivate higher performing teams in 2018 by using these guidelines to assess what the issues, or strengths, of any team may be.
One important thing we’re committed to practicing in 2018 is: courageously engaging with our toughest challenges. It can be tempting, and far too easy, to push off the hardest things until later, while addressing the easy stuff right away. Sometimes this can be a smart way to prioritize work. But when faced with harrowing issues or problems, the more you ignore it, the bigger it grows. In the new year, intentionally try to choose courage more often. When faced with thorny conundrums, instead of choosing avoidance, proactively lean in. This can have powerful results not just for you, but for your whole organization. As the leader, people look to you to set the tone and behavior standards for the overall effort. When you visibly choose to tackle the hardest issues first, when you choose to have the uncomfortable conversation, when you choose to own up to a mistake and fix it – no matter how painful it might be in the moment, those brave choices radiate outward and positively affect the behavior of everyone on the team. Over time, making braver choices will become woven into the fabric of your team’s behavior profile. By modeling this behavior, you can make courage part of the culture. To learn more about how you can make more courageous choices, explore our post about this behavior here.
The very best leaders approach their work in a way that is both tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. Not either, or. Abundantly, they are experts at doing both; they deftly marry the “head” and the “heart.” Masterfully, they can simultaneously prioritize people and performance — and do so in a way that is humble, brave, and authentic to who they really are. If you’re hoping to carry this abundant spirit in your leadership behaviors in 2018, you may be wondering — what does this all mean from a tactical standpoint? What are the practices that bring this larger idea of leadership that works to life? What do abundant leaders have in common? In Doug’s experience, great leaders have these seven important things in common. If you study these seven things, you’ll find an equal balance of practices that are people-focused, and practices that are performance-oriented. For better results in the new year, try to capture these behaviors in your own leadership.
One of Stephen Covey’s most well-known habits, of his famed seven, is to begin all pursuits “with the end in mind.” If you can’t clearly envision your desired outcome, you can’t proactively bring it fruition. For leaders to succeed, they must have clear goals that guide the direction of their team, or even their entire organization’s efforts. Whether it’s an incremental quarterly sales goal, or a big-picture direction for the entire scope of your company, there must be clarity about where you’re headed. Your people need to know which way to go. If there is not a shared vision that everyone agrees to and understands, the work will lack discipline and focus — and you could end up toiling in vain, misdirecting resources, and wasting time. So how do you decide the right way to go? How can you pick goals that are highly motivating and aspirational but also practical and achievable? The key is to remember this motto: Pursue the Ideal; stay anchored in the Real. To honor this motto and choose the best goals, there are 3 key things you should consider. We break it down here.
This time of year, we celebrate the virtue of gratitude. While we should flex our gratitude muscle throughout the year, it’s also important to take extra time during the holidays to pause, reflect, recharge, and re-commit to bringing gratitude to life in every area of our life. For us, part of that process is reflecting on the ways we can bring more thankfulness into our leadership. Not just because it’s a “nice” thing to do but because it’s a crucial business imperative. Giving thanks is about making people feel valued. And research shows the highest performing teams and organizations are comprised of people who feel valued. So, by giving thanks with your leadership, you can both feel more fulfilled as leaders and inspire better business results in the marketplace. To help you give thanks in the new year, we compiled 10 powerful ways to give thanks with your leadership here.
What are your leadership resolutions for 2018? Do you have a plan for bringing them to fruition? Our Founder, internationally renowned Fortune 300 CEO, Doug Conant, can personally help you reach your goals in the new year. He designed the ConantLeadership Boot Camp for real leaders facing real problems in the real world. Taught personally by Doug, the powerful process imparted at Boot Camp will empower you to win in the workplace and in the marketplace. You’ll learn practices you can put to work on Monday morning. And you’ll discover new, actionable insights about your unique temperament, strengths, beliefs, and skill set. Committed to maximizing your impact next year? Get started on your Boot Camp journey today. Apply now.