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10 resolutions for the servant leader

What will you do in 2017 to serve others?

5 min read


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My aspirations always outstrip my accomplishments. I really don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but I’ve convinced myself it’s OK. I want to set the bar high. If I don’t always get over the bar, so be it. I believe I’ll accomplish more when I stretch. If you adopt a similar philosophy, you’ll just have to be prepared for the outcome – a true stretch is not a sure thing. You will fall short from time to time.

This actually excites me. I don’t have to look far to find areas for improvement. As a servant leader, here are my top 10 resolutions for 2017. You may find that they may push you, too. (I’ll create goals, strategies and tactics as needed in my personal plan).

10. See the future. I want to do be sure I am investing enough time envisioning a preferred future. Wayne Gretzky famously said to skate where the puck is headed. My challenge and yours is to determine, “Where do we want the puck to go?”

9. Engage and develop others. There is always a lot of heavy lifting for me in this arena. This idea represents a broad and deep leadership mandate. I am working to be even more intentional and proactive here in the new year. Who will you help grow and develop in 2017?

8. Reinvent continuously. Progress is always preceded by change. My challenge and yours as leaders is to be “continuously” reinventing something. It may fall in one or more of several arenas: Self, Systems, Structure. What will you reinvent in 2017?

7. Value results and relationships. After 40 years of leading others, I contend this is probably the most challenging for leaders around the world. The problem is our natural bias. Our wiring generally pushes, or pulls, us to favor one of these over the other. My goal in 2017 is to continue to compensate for my bias. Great leaders value both results and relationships!

6. Embody the values. Leaders (the good ones) always walk the talk. The big question for me: Am I living a life consistent with what I espouse? Or, as a friend of mine asked, “Am I smoking what I’m selling?” The people following you are asking the same question. Remember, people always watch the leader.

5. Hunger for wisdom. Complacency kills leaders; not literally, but effectively. Leaders who are not constantly learning and growing, on purpose, have already turned in their keys. Our effectiveness hinges on our ability to learn and grow. Have you created a written growth plan for the new year? It’s not too late!

4. Expect the best. As leaders, we are charged with creating a preferred future. It is central to our role. What type of future are you trying to create? If it’s not better than today, why would people want to follow you?

3. Accept responsibility. This is a moment of truth that emerges over and over in a leaders’ life. Do you own your work? Probably so. Do you own the mistakes and miscues of those entrusted to your leadership? If you do, you can gain trust, loyalty and respect. I strive to always be faithful to this practice, despite the consequences.

2. Respond with courage. Leadership, done well, always requires courage. Sometimes small and sometimes massive amounts of courage will be required. Do people see you as a courageous leader? How can you demonstrate leadership courage in the new year?

1. Think of others first. Few leaders instinctively think of others first. This habit has to be cultivated. Here’s a quick suggestion:Try to add value to everyone you meet. I know it sounds bizarre on face value, but try it. Maybe all you have to offer is a word of encouragement or, if you happen to be a person of faith, a silent prayer. If we seek to add value, we shift the focus from us to the other person. It will make all the difference in the world.

Which of these resolutions, if acted upon, would catapult your leadership to new levels in 2017?

Happy New Year!


Bestselling author and corporate leader Mark Miller began his Chick-fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977. Since joining the corporate staff in 1978, he has provided leadership for corporate communications, field operations, quality and customer satisfaction, and training, organizational effectiveness, and leadership development. During his time at Chick-fil-A, annual sales have grown to over $7 billion and the company has expanded to more than 2,000 restaurants. Miller is the co-author with Ken Blanchard of “The Secret! What Great Leaders Know and Do” and author of “Chess Not Checkers.” His latest book, “Leaders Made Here,” will be released this spring.

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