It’s that time of year again, where countless individuals make resolutions, proclamations of self-improvement, which will all long be forgotten before 2019 has even had a chance to really kick-off.
Resolution lists are essentially declarations of what we’d really like to be, whether it is to be in better shape, to eat healthier, or to concentrate more on a hobby or activity we enjoy. Consider it your wish list of nirvana, a compilation of all the things you wished you had accomplished last year. Now, with a new year in front of you, you try and justify how this year will be different, hence a list, because nothing stipulates progress like a list of what has to be done, right?
Not quite, as the majority of people who make New Year Resolutions list treat it exactly like a list, i.e. no plan, no means of tracking progress, and most importantly, no consequences for failing to achieve their goals.
As Leaders, instead of a resolution list to kick off your year, consider a change in mindset, focus on Leadership Evolution rather than Leadership Resolution. As Leaders, we must constantly be evolving, changing, adapting to the situation, people, and job in front of us, for no two are ever the same, and each unique person, situation or job requires a different mindset, skill, and execution in order to achieve success.
Unlike the evolutionary process that has molded and changed all living creatures over millions of years, we are not blessed with the luxury of time in our own personal Leadership Evolution. That doesn’t mean we cannot evolve as leaders, rather it means attention to Leadership Evolution must be focused and comprehensive.
There are a number of steps you must take to achieve your 2019 Leadership Evolution:
- Self-Reflection – Mastery of oneself can never be achieved without self-reflection. Until we look internally at ourselves, identifying our strengths, weaknesses and what we truly value as important, we will never achieve happiness, or develop to the fullest of our potential. The first step in self-reflection, is to make time to sit in silence, engaged solely in uninterrupted thought, with the goal of looking back on the year, taking each month of the calendar and playing back your life story for the year. Where did your Leadership shine? What things are you most proud of? Where did you succeed? What factors led to that success? What great things did others say about you? Remember to write these positive reflections on paper as you recall them. Next, for each month, reflect on the negative self-reflections. This is the part that requires brutal honesty. Don’t sugar coat your year with little or no negative self-reflections, dig deep, analyze your year, it’s critical to your Leadership Evolution. Where did you fall down this year in your Leadership abilities? What was some of the negative feedback you heard from others? What failures can you identify? What led to those failures? Remember, these must be written out also, as part of the self-reflection process.
- Self-Importance – Now that you have your compilation of positive and negative self-reflections on paper before you, read each one and decide how important each on is to you for the upcoming year to either enhance (positive reflections) or improve/eliminate (negative reflections). Leadership evolution is personal, and this is why you must decide which positives to enhance and which negatives to improve upon or eliminate as your year progresses.
- Realistic Planning – Ok, so you’ve identified all the things you want to enhance, improve, or eliminate as your year progresses, and you as a Leader evolve. Next, you need to devise a REALISTIC action plan, a means of execution for improvement. I capitalized and bolded the word “realistic”, as the best laid out plans are meaningless if they interfere with life, with personal commitments, or are unachievable with your schedule and/or work. For example, if you want to improve your speaking skills, a plan of attack might be to enroll and take one course every month this year in an area of communication, either online or as a one day event each month locally. That might be an achievable and realistic means of improving your speaking capabilities. Planning to attend conventions focused on speaking, worldwide, every month, may not be realistic, and therefore unachievable. A realistic plan of attack is one that is achievable based on your personal life, work life, and monetary capability.
- Realistic Measurement – You will never know if your leadership abilities are evolving, adapting and improving if you have no means of measuring and tracking your realistic action plan execution. Some actions might be measured monthly, as in the case of my previous example of taking a communications course each month of the year. Others may need to be measured and recorded daily or weekly. For example, maybe you identified on your list of negative self-reflections the fact that you never say thank-you often enough to your employees and team members. You can realistically track this each day or week and, most importantly, keep track of it in a log. If you are unable to track and measure your progress on what you plan to change, you will never know if you are truly evolving as a Leader.
- Revisit & Redefine – This is where the Leadership Evolution process surpasses and obliterates Leadership Resolutions. Unlike the yearly ritual of making resolutions we never properly plan, track or achieve, Leadership Evolution (which so far we’ve defined, planned, and are able to measure) requires a constant revisiting and redefinition. At the end of each week, revisit your action plan. Are you achieving results? Are there ways to improve? You might find you’re achieving exactly what you planned. You might also find yourself in a new job, new role, different situation, where you must now go back to step 1 and self-reflect again. See the difference? Once you’ve kicked off your Leadership Evolution process, there is no need to yearly define a “resolution”, you will be constantly redefining yourself, ever evolving every day of the year, adapting, improving, and forever self-reflecting on yourself and your Leadership abilities, style, and execution.
- Reward Yourself – Too often, we never celebrate our own personal small wins, never take time to give ourselves a pat on the back. As your Leadership evolves, and goals and plans to evolve are achieved, reward yourself. First, identify your achievements, which can be easy to do if you’ve planned, you tracked and measured progress, and you regularly revisited and redefined your Leadership. Second, make sure you identify and write down your reward in your realistic plan of action, especially for actions that require a lot of effort and time. Maybe you’ll take a week-long vacation at the end of the year, if you successfully achieve the once a month speaking courses, as an example. You work hard, put a lot of effort into your development, so as your Leadership evolves, pat yourself on the back in whatever way makes you happy!
So forget resolutions, let’s make 2019 a year of Leadership Evolution, one where you dynamically evolve, change, adapt, and emerge as a visionary Warrior Leader!
Kerry is a Leadership Specialist, a Professional Engineer, Coach, Mentor, Speaker, Author, and Martial Artist. He has amalgamated his corporate leadership knowledge with his martial arts training, to produce his own style of Warrior Leadership, where Development of Mind, Body, and Spirit are amalgamated and transcended. His book, “Warrior Leadership – A Transformation of Mind, Body & Spirit for Everyday Life and the Workplace” is available worldwide on Amazon. He is available for speaking engagements, seminars and personal coaching/training! He is currently busy writing his second book on attaining greatness!
Be sure to follow him on Twitter @KerryKBrown for tweets on Warrior Leadership.