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10 New Year’s resolutions for leaders

3 min read


Having trouble coming up with a good New Year’s leadership resolution? Here’s a list of 10 to pick from. These are things that leaders know they should do but often don’t. Don’t overdo it — just pick one and commit to it.

Feel free to submit your own in the comments section — there’s nothing like a public declaration to hold yourself accountable.

For 2013, I’m going to:

1. Develop a charter for my team or organization. The charter will include our purpose (or mission), our vision, our values, long-term (two to three years) goals, objectives, and action plans. I’ll involve my team and other stakeholders in the development of the charter, make sure it’s communicated clearly and consistently, and follow up on a regular basis to track progress, revise, and celebrate achievements.

2. Reach out to someone who helped me become the leader I am today. I’ll write a letter, or maybe even pay a visit, and let them know specifically what they did and why it was so important for me.

3. Schedule and hold regular one-on-ones with each of my team members. We’ll use that time to discuss concerns, opportunities, progress on goals and development; celebrate achievements; or just touch base on what’s going on in our busy lives. If I have a conflict, I won’t cancel the meeting — instead I’ll reschedule it.

4. Decide what’s important to me as a leader — what I stand for and why. I’ll share this with others and consistently act in a way that demonstrates these values and beliefs.

5. Be more accountable. I’ll admit my mistakes, fix them, learn from them, and stop pointing fingers or placing blame.

6. Improve my presentation skills and the way I communicate. I’ll take a course, join Toastmasters, hire a coach, practice, and get feedback from others.

7. Listen more and better. I’m going to seek to understand the other person’s point of view and emotions and force myself not to evaluate, judge, or offer my own point of view until I am sure I have understood theirs.

8. Get feedback on my leadership skills. I’ll take a multi-rater assessment or figure out some other ways to get an accurate assessment as to how I am perceived by others.

9. Mentor someone. I’ll make myself available to help someone else become even better than me. If not someone at work, I’ll volunteer my time to an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

10. Be more innovative. I’m going to look for possibilities and ask “why not” and “what if.” I’ll take a course or read a book on what it takes to be an innovative leader, and pick two or three things to implement and practice.

Dan McCarthy is the director of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire. He writes the award-winning leadership-development blog Great Leadership and is consistently ranked as one of the top digital influencers in leadership and talent management. He’s a regular contributor to SmartBlog on Leadership. E-mail McCarthy.