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 annual list of leadership resolutions. We hope these leadership resolutions for 2019 will empower you to lift your leadership to new heights and lead your most productive, meaningful, and fulfilling year yet. 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 2018, 2017 and 2016).
Lead with Gratitude
Our top goal for the new year is to lead with gratitude through thick and thin — in the good times and the bad. It is easy to be grateful when things are going well. But it’s much more challenging to remain in a state of gratitude when we are plunged into the depths of turmoil or difficulty. Practicing the ability to do so, to remain thankful even when the weather in our life gets stormy, makes all the difference. Learning how to hold on to gratitude, no matter what life throws our way, requires a deeper and more nuanced understanding of what gratitude truly is and can be.
In truth, gratitude extends far beyond our utterances of thanks and written expressions of appreciation. To truly lead with gratitude and reap all the abundance it can bring, you have to change your way of thinking. To unlock a life of learning, joy, and influencing others effectively, it’s helpful to understand that leading with gratitude is not a single action or set of practices, it’s a mindset; it’s a spirit that helps you to recover from setbacks, to reframe challenges as opportunities, to seek more creative resolutions to problems, and to value people more fully. No, you can’t cultivate a gratitude mindset overnight. Like anything worthwhile, leading with gratitude takes practice. But you can get better quickly using the tips and practices outlined here.
Set a Better Example
In Doug‘s experience leading people over the last several decades, he has seen time and again that any change or improvement – to a team, to a culture, to a behavior, or to an entire company – must start with leaders “being the change” they’d like to see. To get the results that are needed to move things forward, we have to start with our own actions. When we model the necessary positive behaviors first, those positive choices radiate outwards throughout the entire organization exponentially. This lesson holds true outside the workplace and in every area of life: in your family, in your community, in your place of worship, and beyond.
Setting a better example does not have to be an enormous undertaking. You can start small. By finding manageable ways to champion change with your own behavior, you can begin to transform results and maximize your impact. While one could easily fill a book with advice on this topic, here are two easily digestible and practical tips on leading by example at your organization based on Doug’s 45 years of leadership experience including C-Suite tenures as President of Nabisco Foods and CEO of Campbell Soup Company. Explore these tips and embark on your journey to becoming a better beacon to others in the new year.
Enforce Tough Standards By Showing You Care
When David White became Global VP of Supply Chain at Campbell Soup Company in 2004, the company had a shocking lost-time injury rate of 1.24%. This meant that of the 24,000 people working in the company at the time, one person per day was getting seriously hurt somewhere around the world.
David thought that Campbell should do better. The injury rate was showing that there was a problem with the workplace culture. After all, safety isn’t just about a number in a report; human lives and livelihoods are at risk. A company simply cannot claim to value people if it does not put keeping them safe at the forefront.
David pledged to turn things around even though he knew it would mean enforcing really tough standards. And he did. Over the course of his decade at Campbell, lost-time injuries went down by 90%. By the time he left in 2014, there were an average of about two lost-time injuries a month, down from the staggering 30 per month they were experiencing when he began. And the improvement has held steady in the years since his departure. How did he do it? He was both tough-minded on standards and tender-hearted with people. You can enforce even the toughest of standards by applying the same principle. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, the key to being tough is showing people how much you care. Explore the four key ways David improved safety here to find practical ways you too can get results by showing you care.
Manage Your Time
When you’re the leader, time is at a premium. Many different stakeholder groups are relying on you to make decisions and advance the company agenda in a timely way. If you don’t develop smart ways to manage your time and energy, your calendar can quickly become bloated with appointments and calls, and your days can become a study in chaos. But there are strategies you can use to manage your time more effectively and get more done without burning out.
In Doug’s over 45 years of leadership experience, he learned a few ways to manage his time better so he can be more helpful, to more people, in a more efficient way, and he shares them here. To be your best self in 2019, use these actionable tips for managing meetings better, protecting what’s “sacred”, and powering up your commute. Rest assured, these time management strategies are helpful to leaders at any level of their career. Even if you haven’t ascended to the executive level or c-suite, try these out to free up your time and make a bigger impact in your organization, no matter your job title.
Hone Your Skills
Just as the great innovators in art, literature, and business had to first understand the rules of their craft in order to break or evolve them, so is the same with leadership. The leaders you may look up to likely had to first dutifully learn their craft and become anchored in the basics before they could become the almost larger-than-life “change agents” they may appear to be today.
If you yearn to transform your leadership in the new year, it is helpful to understand the parts of it that are steadfast and un-changing no matter the era, situation, or person involved – even as the world progresses at an unprecedented and exponential pace all around us. Of course, there are many core leadership principles which we discuss throughout our suite of leadership resources and in our high-impact leadership model, The ConantLeadership Flywheel. But the most fundamental building block of all, the sole attribute upon which every other leadership trait rests and relies, is competence.
Competence, while it may seem obvious, is so vital it must be explicitly called out in any serious discussion of leadership. Because it is so obvious and indispensable, there is not a lot of talk about what, exactly, competence looks like. It can feel, at times, mysterious. But if you really want to hone your skills and get better in the new year, it’s helpful to understand the inner workings of competence so you can self-assess and hone your skills. Doug has observed that competence, while complex, can be broken down into three essential components. When these three parts are leveraged together in harmony, overall leadership competence is elevated. Explore the anatomy of leadership competence here and get ready for your most skillful year yet.
Improve Your Habits
We always have the best of intentions heading into the new year. But too often, by February, many of us begin to experience a waning in the momentum we had towards reaching our goals. To ensure you keep moving forward towards your goals, no matter the time of year, it is always helpful to be mindful of the power of habits. Setting intentions and goals is essential to leadership (and life) success. But goals are only one part of the change equation. How do you actually bring your best intentions to fruition? You do it through small actions, repeated faithfully, until they become hardwired habits. It’s good habits that transform dreams into reality. (And, conversely, it can sometimes be a misguided adherence to bad habits that holds us back.) To help you keep moving towards your loftiest aspirations with gusto, we compiled 32 quotes about the power of habits. Bookmark these to revisit when you feel your motivation dwindling come February or March. You’re welcome.
What are your leadership resolutions for 2019?
Our Founder, Doug Conant, can personally help you reach your goals in the new year. Doug is the only former fortune 500 CEO who is a New York Times bestselling author, a Top 50 Leadership Innovator, a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, and Top 100 Most Influential Author in the World. He designed the ConantLeadership Boot Camp for real leaders, facing real problems, in the real world. 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.
(Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash)