Compelling: having a powerful and irresistible effect
As a coach, I don’t put much faith into New Year’s Resolutions. I see from statistics that more than 50% of individuals admit to having broken some within just one week, and nearly all people (about 87%, according to a study done in 2008) admit that they don’t even track them after a month.
The key problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that – for the most part – they can be best described as, “nice to have’s.” For example: “it would be nice to have more money in the bank,” “I’d really like to weigh less,” or “My wish for this year is to get a promotion.” What each of those statements lack is anything that’s compelling.
On the other hand – I am a big believer in making an annual plan. Whether that plan is for your department, your business, or your life – all the evidence shows that having a well-created plan will significantly increase your odds for success.
Well-crafted plans are clearly written, they define the objectives. Additionally they have timelines. They show you how much of what you will have done by when. Finally, they are monitored for progress. Changes are made as the plan rolls out to ensure they will achieve the best results possible.
Here are seven resolutions that will make you a better leader:
1. Resolve to have your own plan for your organization. This may – or may not – be the same plan that you create for others in the organization. If you “own” your plan, you care deeply about it because you know it’s a reflection on you. Plans that are created pro forma for an annual process that no one really believes in don’t accomplish much.
2. Resolve to ask more questions. The best leaders are like the most successful individuals in all sectors: they recognize that they don’t know everything so they spend about 75% of their time asking questions and about 25% of their time telling. Most leaders are upside down on this point.
3. Resolve to reduce meeting time. In organizations that are not real good at what they do, the adage seems to be something like, “Business is tough, we need more meetings!” While that may make some people feel they are moving the ball forward, the best leaders know better. They want the team on the playing field and not in a meeting room.
4. Resolve to regain your sense of humor. Watch the best performers in any segment and you’ll see that they can find some humor in any situation – even if it’s self-deprecating. Most leaders start losing their sense of humor about the time they start move up the ladder, but the good ones seem to inherently know that this is a factor that can help them keep a sense of perspective and that, in turn, helps others overcome tough odds and even work a little harder.
5. Resolve to regularly track your progress against your plan. Doing this regularly allows you to see trends before they may otherwise become clear. Bad trends can be course-corrected with less damage and good trends can be fed to move more quickly. I recommend the idea of sharing your plan broadly with all who can help you ensure it’s achieved – that includes sharing your tracking, good or bad.
6. Resolve to take more calculated risks. Don’t always take the safe route on everything that you face as a leader. We live in uncertain times where an approach that worked in another economy or for another competitive situation may no longer apply. This applies to your career as well.
7. Resolve to become more thoughtful. I accept the idea that great leaders learn to rely on their instincts to a certain extent. But I also see individuals who have lost their way. Being thoughtful applies to everything you do every day on the job, including business decisions, personnel issues and investments. It also applies to everything you do for your personal life such as relationships, health, and finances. Thoughtfulness may be the most important and under discussed trait of the best leaders.
Here’s to a great 2012!