December 31, 2021
Most of us find the prospect of a new year incredibly motivating and see it as a brilliant time to set goals. It’s like a blank slate, and a powerful driver for action.
Just think, if your team could achieve anything in 2022, what would that be?
There’s a heap of research that shows how goal-setting can benefit us, including:
- Motivation to develop new ideas and strategies
- Increased performance
- The satisfaction of making progress towards or achieving a goal
Note that these benefits are available to you, whether you achieve your goal or not! Just having the goal, developing a plan and getting started on it is enough.
Gift yourself 3 minutes to watch these tips from Tony Robbins:
- Get focussed
- Take action and keep adjusting your strategy/experimenting
- Grace/gratitude for the opportunities that will come because of #1 and #2
Ok, here are some ideas for goals for leaders in 2022:
- Fail fast forward. Linked to Tony Robbin’s comments in the video, let’s not hesitate this year. Let’s not wait to start until we have a perfect plan mapped out. Or when you’ve finished recruiting, or when (insert other good reason not to start). Validate that your goal is worthwhile, then get started! Try something, reflect, adjust and try again. Keep this approach up throughout 2022 and you will be amazed what you can achieve.
- Become a learning animal. The Centre for Creative Leadership lists Learning Agility as one of only 4 core leadership skills to develop through your career. I’m not saying that you have to go and enrol in another university course (unless you want to), there are plenty of micro credentials, podcasts, books, free newsletters, webinars, etc. you can invest a little time in to keep you growing, tuned in to current issues in your profession and inspired.
- Invest time each day for YOU. To be your best for others, you have to be your best for yourself. Schedule time each day for something restorative or nurturing for yourself. Whether it’s a 10-minute meditation or yoga routine at the start of the day, a quiet cuppa on the back step in the rising sun before the family stirs, a lunchtime walk, or
- Become more mindful. You are a human BEing. As a leader, we’re often so busy with the never-ending DOing that we can find it challenging to enjoy the moment, centre ourselves, reflect. There are heaps of YouTube mindfulness videos that range from 1 minute upwards, so set a calendar remined a couple of times a day to pause, breathe and connect to yourself again. You will be so much more productive for this small pause because of the mental clarity that will come, but this practice also strengthens self-awareness, which is an important part of building your emotional intelligence – another vital skill for leaders.
- Improve your listening skills. Listening well is a precursor to empathy, because the more you understand the better you can relate. So ask questions and really, deeply listen to the response. Listen to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it. Notice when their voice is hesitant, or tense, or guarded. Depending on the situation you may want to reflect that back to them, or just notice and listen. You will be amazed what you can learn when you keep your mouth shut and listen well.
- Build your leadership presence. To become more influential and lead cross-organisation initiatives, leadership presence is a must. If you’re starting out in leadership, often you underestimate the benefit of knowing how influential others see you. This is not about power; it’s about having the style, substance and character so that people will listen to what you have to say. Aim to understand how your own leaders and peers see you, and pick one or two areas to work on this year.
- Become more proactive and less reactive. When you’re proactive, you make choices to influence your reality, rather than completely allowing external conditions to influence it. Block out time in your calendar every week to work on an initiative that will help you and your team to get ahead, fix a recurring problem, automate a process or improve a product or service so that you can eventually reduce those things that make you so busy.
- Practice assertiveness. This is the art about speaking up respectfully; speaking your truth calmly and honestly without aggression or being a victim. There are soooo many benefits to being assertive and just as many free resources on the internet or in your local library to help you to develop this skill.
- Do something for others less fortunate on a regular basis. Whether it’s donating your time, your team’s time or your money. We can all afford to give something to help others in our community. Find a cause that’s meaningful for you and make it happen. A regular deduction, a regular calendar appointment…. anything regular will tick this one off. This one will help you as much as it helps others, so it’s a win-win situation!
- Develop a team charter.
- Become dispensable. If you’re over busy, you’re a bottleneck for your team which means that you’re actually dragging everyone’s productivity down. Make a list of everything you do for a week. Ask yourself “Do I have to do this?”. If the answer is no, find a way to get it off your task list. Coach and develop others, educate clients, recruit an extra person, outsource, improve processes….. find a way to keep you working more strategically and not being dragged constantly into fire fighting. Triple points if you can train someone to step into your job while you’re away for work or on leave and be able to do at least 80% of what you can do, not just keep the seat warm for you.
- Take time to celebrate achievements with your team. Leadership is a team sport. Good people will leave if not recognised for their hard work and commitment to delivering on your goals. Research has proven that purposeful employee recognition can ignite engagement, accelerate performance, and build strong cultures. There’s always more to achieve when one goal is ticked off the list, but remember to pause and thank your team for their efforts. Be genuine – a heartfelt thanks in person or in a card that specifically identifies how the person contributed to team success is worth 1000 times more than a gift voucher that seems to be achieving a quota or procedure.
- Maintain a proper work-life balance. Yes, there will always be periods of time when early starts and/or late finishes are necessary, or when you have to take work home or answer emails late at night. But making this a habit makes you a workaholic, and does not set a great example for your team. Make a commitment to your family, friends a hobby, sport or club that means that you will have to walk away from work by a specific deadline if you must. And if you have to send emails late at night, use the “delay delivery’ setting so that they are delivered first thing in the morning. That way, your team wont’ feel compelled to respond after hours either.
- Get clear on your vision for your team/organisation. When was the last time you stopped and really thought about what you’re really trying to achieve every day in your work? What difference will that make in the world if you deliver on your goals? It’s vital that leaders at every level of an organisation can clearly articulate their teams big goals and why that’s so important to achieve. These vision and strategic goals become your guideposts when prioritising your team’s work, negotiating with another business unit about resources or problem resolution, onboarding new staff, clients or suppliers. People will buy into your cause, rally around it and be proactive in trying to assist you to achieve it by bringing their own professional expertise to help you. At the very least, it makes your requests about something much bigger than your ego, which helps when dealing with challenging situations.
- Volunteer for a challenge project. You know what I mean – one of those projects that seems to never get picked up by anyone because it’s too hard or painful, but which would make a big difference to everyone if it got done. Taking on extra responsibilities shows your hard work, ambition and your ability to manage the new challenge and the workload. Proving your dedication and work ethic to your direct manager might inspire them to become a champion for you on your career journey. Of course, be sure to stay on top of your regular duties if you take on extra projects.
- Become a mentor. There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in sharing your hard-learned advice, knowledge and insights with someone who is a willing learner with great potential. Apart from watching their career fly, you will also be exposed to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches that could inspire you to approach your work differently, and you will develop your own leadership and coaching abilities in a new context. You don’t need a formal program to become a mentor, but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, many organisations or professional associations offer mentoring programs you may be able to get involved with.
- Improve your networking abilities. According to Center for Creative Leadership, “leadership networking is about developing and using your networks in a way that builds relationships and strengthens alliances in service of your organisation’s work and goals.” Think of networking as reciprocity though so that it’s not all about what you can gain. Be sincere and form a real connection with people in your profession or across your organisation to build a real support system that you can draw from when you’re scoping a new idea or project or having challenges, or that you can leverage to connect people with similar aspirations or challenges.
- Become more informed. This is different to #1…. what I mean here is to improve your industry, competitor and customer knowledge. Do research, read white papers and research from others. Get close to your customers and find out what they need and value. This knowledge can help you to confirm whether your current products or services need improvement, or where to invest time and money in developing new products and services to stay ahead of, or abreast with, market and social trends.
- Build a bridge with a difficult colleague or client. Make 2022 the year that your relationship turns around.
- Plan a proper holiday. OK, with COVID 19 this may not be a globe-trotting adventure, but taking at least 2 weeks off and getting away is good for your soul, your mental health, your close relationships… and all that is very good for your work too. Double points if you can get off the grid while you’re away.
- Be happy. Remember Tigger and Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh? Who is happier? Who would you enjoy spending your working days with? Did you know that you can CHOOSE to be happy? Whatever life sends your way, remember that the only person who can decide how it impacts you in the long term is you. When you’re ready to be more like Tigger, focus on the opportunities the situation might open up and the good things you have in your life, what brings you joy in your work or other activities. Proactive choosing happiness every day, and watch yourself and your relationships blossom.
- Appreciate yourself. You’re amazing! Who has told you this lately? Did you believe them? We all have flaws but many people focus way too much on these minor imperfections, rather than acknowledging the strengths and skills we have. Make a list of your positive qualities, areas of skill or expertise, things you’re well regarded for. These strengths totally outweigh the flaws, so look back on this list every year to add new qualities and skills. You will not have a resource for when you’re doubting yourself, or for when you have to write your next job application.