What SmartBrief's top leadership posts of 2018 tell us

Every year, SmartBrief's Leadership blog publishes a few hundred posts, each with the goal of offering useful advice for being a better and more thoughtful leader, manager, communicator and strategist.

In doing so, we don't want to promise all the answers. There are no simple solutions to never-ending tasks like leadership, working with others and human interaction in general. Our writers are following the foundational belief of the SmartBrief on Leadership newsletter (please sign up!) -- you don't have to read us to stay current in your field, but we want you to want to read us to make yourself better and help others be better.

I've done this recap for several years now. For reference, here's last year's and 2016's.

What do these posts mean?

I should start by saying I think I had an undue influence on this year's list. From mid-June through late September, I was hiring for my team and taking on extra work and deadlines in the meantime. You'll notice that most of the top 15 posts are from the year's first six months, with a couple publishing in October.

Did I do a worse job promoting these posts in the SmartBrief on Leadership email because I was merely trying to stay afloat? It's quite possible.

That said, every year I like to note that being among the "most-read" posts includes factors such as luck, timing and distribution in the Leadership email. A post that doesn't land is my fault, not the writer's. There are always outside factors, and there are still lessons to learn from this top 15 list!

We're looking at articles on emotional intelligence, being an empowering leader, what bullying looks like, etc. Why is this? It's easy to speculate that this is in response to the discourse that's easy to find in politics, on social media and advertising. I think there is something to that. Yet, I also would note that there is no time in American history where the discourse was prim and proper (dirty campaigns go back more than 200 years).

Perhaps there is a realization that, while deadlines must be hit, deals made and results achieved, leaders today are realizing that they didn't love the autocratic, cruel or dismissive way their bosses treated them or others. Or, in an era of constant scrutiny, not just internally but on social media, leaders are realizing they need a different approach. If this list reflects a desire for self-improvement, then I think we've done a good job. And with the longest bull market in recent memory nearing bear status and people worried about the housing market, we'll need strong, thoughtful and selfless leadership when the layoffs and cost-cutting arrive.

As always, no article can generate automatic results, and there is no one way to do things. I want SmartBrief on Leadership to offer thoughtful advice, new paths or tactics to consider and insight that can help you reflect on what's best for you.

Thank you

I've edited the SmartBrief on Leadership newsletter for seven years, and the blog for almost as long. I've learned a lot in my reading and have been able to use this job to improve my workplace interactions and management of my team. I'm eternally grateful to do this work and to have a job where every day is an opportunity to grow and learn.

Thank you to my regular contributors and the countless guest bloggers (and the PR and publisher folks who work on their behalf). As always, Mike Figliuolo, a leading blogger in his own right, continues writing our weekly reader poll and analysis.

It's Christmas, so I'll stop now and simply share the most-read posts.

  1. "5 qualities of emotionally intelligent leaders" -- Joel Garfinkle, Jan. 15
  2. "Are you getting in your own way? Get more of what you want and less of what you don't" -- John R. Stoker, Feb. 8
  3. "What does servant leadership in action look like?" -- Ken Blanchard, March 2
  4. "9 ways you are demotivating and disempowering your team" -- Joel Garfinkle, April 16
  5. "Cultivate coachability with these 5 mindsets" -- Julie Winkle Giulioni, Feb. 9
  6. "Are you undermining your leadership credibility?" -- John R. Stoker, June 19
  7. "8 ways to become a more approachable leader" -- Joel Garfinkle, Feb. 19
  8. "5 ways you can move outside your comfort zone" -- LaRae Quy, June 20
  9. "Why should leaders increase their EQ?" -- John R. Stoker, Oct. 12
  10. "Why leaders struggle with accountability" -- Marlene Chism, Oct. 1
  11. "When you work for a bully" -- Alaina Love, April 23
  12. "5 reasons successful people need grit" -- LaRae Quy, March 21
  13. "Are you ready to lead the purpose-driven generation?" -- Alaina Love, Aug. 27
  14. "A list of suggestions to become more productive" -- Naphtali Hoff, Oct. 10
  15. "How to bully your way to the top" -- Alaina Love, June 25

James daSilva edits SmartBrief's leadership and management content, as well as newsletters for HR executives, wholesaler-distributors and manufacturers. Before joining SmartBrief, he was copy desk chief at a daily newspaper in New York. Email him.