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Leadership Resolutions for 2017

by | Dec 31, 2016

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. These goals for the new year are aimed at empowering you to lead your most productive and meaningful year yet in 2017.  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 2016 and 2015).


There are two essential traits to leadership that are unchanging: competence and character. No matter the year, no matter the challenge — as long as you commit to developing these two most essential traits, you will be in a position to thrive. Always. But they can be elusive and tricky-to-define. That’s why we developed two checklists you can use to test both your competence and character. Test yourself with our competence checklist here and with our character checklist here.


Since the stakes are so often high in today’s complex marketplace, many smart leaders develop a habit of consulting valued resources and trusted confidants to ensure they make the best call. This is a highly effective habit — when we can actually spare the time to pick up the phone or meet up for lunch to get advice. The brutal reality is: nine times out of ten, there simply isn’t time to formally consult with others. That’s why Doug developed a highly effective practice that allows him to consult with all his most trusted advisers, at a moment’s notice, whenever he needs them, without having to go anywhere or call anyone.  The practice is called the Entourage of Excellence™ – and it’s a straightforward practice that you can develop too. Click here to read how.


Most leaders understand the importance of designing a strategy and setting objectives. But bringing those objectives to fruition can be challenging. A framework for exploring our approach to goals can help — and knowing which questions to ask can be a game-changer. To achieve better execution and bring your goals to life, explore these 5 provocative questions that can help reveal actionable insights as you work towards producing extraordinary results in 2017.


Trust is the one thing that changes everything. Importantly, it is not a “soft”, social virtue — it’s truly a hard, economic driver for every organization. Put simply: it’s not a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. Without trust, every part of your organization can fall, literally, into disrepair. With trust, all things are possible – most importantly: continuous improvement and sustainable, measurable, tangible results in the marketplace. So how do you build it? Trust expert, Stephen M.R. Covey, and Doug break down the three most important trust builder’s competencies in this joint article for Harvard Business Review. Follow the article up with our 23 trust tweets for leaders.


What makes some people succeed and others fail? Why do some people who possess enormous talent, or superior intellect, sometimes fall short of reaching their goals while others who are more unassuming and (seemingly) average manage to achieve great feats? It’s a question that has persistently intrigued researchers, leaders, psychologists, and authors. As humans, we’ve long hungered to understand what is the best indicator, or predictor, of success. Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Founder and Scientific Director of the Character Lab may have figured it out. She argues that most essential ingredient is grit. So how can you get gritty, persevere through challenges, and achieve leadership success? We break down two crucial ways to build leadership grit here.


Often times when faced with a thorny conundrum, leaders default to thinking about the problem in terms of “either, or.” It’s easy to see how thinking about problems in this simplistic way is attractive to our lizard brains that are always trying to minimize complexity and prevent us from trying new and different things.  But this “either, or” approach is a scarcity approach and it doesn’t help you to be the best leader you can be.  A much better way to tackle the issues you face on a daily basis is to transform your approach from a scarcity model to an abundance model. An abundance model rejects the “tyranny of the ‘or’” and instead, in every situation, looks for what Jim Collins calls, “the genius of the ‘and’.”  Learn how to shift your mindset and embrace the “and” here; it will help you to find more creative solutions and show up more meaningfully moment to moment.


One thing that can materially help us to make better decisions moment-to-moment is to think about our sphere of influence as not only extending to all our stakeholders, our organization, and our community — but across three time zones as well: The Past, The Present, and The Future. What we do today affects all three places in time. We must become leadership “time travelers”; to lead effectively,  we have to be able to transport ourselves to all of these times zones — mentally, intellectually, and emotionally — within the space of a mere instant. Otherwise, we may not appropriately honor the past, present, or future, and the consequences could be dire. How do you learn how to honor all three? Doug shares his simple but highly effective habit for leadership “time travel” — and a handy checklist — here.


Leadership that works is an inside-out craft.  To effectively manage all the nuance and complexity of our roles, deliver sustainable high-performance, and fulfill our commitment to show up for people in a meaningful way — we need a personal leadership model that comes from within.  A model defines our approach in a way that uniquely works for us, and anchors us to our most closely held beliefs and principles; it keeps us grounded when times are tough and energizes us to keep moving forward when things are going well. If we do the necessary work to develop and define our leadership philosophy, the resulting model can be our most reliable support system throughout our leadership journey — providing strength, courage, discipline, and accountability.

How do you start? You have to do the necessary reflection to really know yourself. There are five essential questions that will set you correctly on your path: 2 questions of the head and 3 questions of the heart. To begin, grab a paper and pen, and then explore our posts guiding you through the questions of the head, and the questions of the heart. It may not be easy to do this kind of reflection at first — but stick with it, it’s worth it. In fact, this exercise is the most important step in dramatically transforming your leadership. Let us know how it goes and share any insights you uncover in the comments.

Those are our 8 leadership resolutions for the new year. What are some of your leadership resolutions for 2017?


Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

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