On the cusp of this new year, I’d like to offer you some things I wish for you as a leader in your organization. These are all things that I’ve either witnessed firsthand, seen clients go through and learn from, or have heard from all of you as feedback on various blog posts throughout the year.
I know you can’t possibly tackle all these things and I’m betting you’ve already got a long list of new year’s resolutions to break before the end of January. That said, I hope some of these thoughts, wishes, and suggestions make it onto your priority list and you give a few of them an honest try over the course of the coming 12 months. Hopefully the benefits of doing so are abundantly clear when you see the subject matter.
Enough prattling. Here are my wishes for your 2014:
Prioritize. You can’t possibly get it all done (regardless of what “it” is). There aren’t enough hours in the day or people on your team to accomplish everything on your list. So make a list, check it twice (oh wait… that was for Santa), and sequence things in order of priority. Be comfortable with the fact that the things on the bottom third of the list simply won’t get done. Accept it. Because if you’re getting it all done, you’re either not being aggressive enough or you’re doing a slipshod job and just checking things off rather than delivering quality results.
Learn. You should end the year smarter than you started it. To do so, you’ve got to carve out the time to learn new things. There are some great resources out there for you to learn more efficiently and effectively. To help get you started on some easy, bite-sized learning, here’s a 7 day free trial at lynda.com (you’re welcome). They do awesome video-based training on all sorts of topics (and I’ll soon have classes on there too!). Go learn something new.
Read. This ties to the point above on learning. Making time to explore new subjects, get different perspectives, and find new ways of thinking about things simply makes you a better leader. You’ll have more ways to look at and think about problems, more resources for dealing with challenges, and you’ll likely save time by finding new ideas in interesting places rather than spending tons of time on your own trying to create new ideas. To give you a head start, here’s a list of 12 great books every leader should read.
Find balance. “I’m too busy to work out/eat well/take time off/relax.” Bullcrap. I’m speaking from firsthand experience here. I said all those things. Then I had a frickin’ heart attack (literally). Message received. I’ve learned how to make the time to exercise. I’ve found the time and willpower to eat more betterly. And yes, I take naps and chill out when I make the time to do so. Invest in finding some semblance of balance for yourself otherwise you might end up dead. Not kidding on this one.
Think big. Enough incrementalism. 5% improvements simply don’t inspire people. Your team will quit (eventually) if they’re not stoked about the way you’re changing the world. People want to be inspired and challenged. Your job as their leader is to paint that big picture vision and articulate how your team is going to get there. You’re also responsible for getting them the resources they need to succeed.
Have fun. If work sucks, life sucks. Stop taking everything so seriously. Your mood is contagious. If you’re Mr. or Mrs. Dour Sourpuss, that’s exactly how your team will behave. If you instead convey a sense of joy, happiness, and pride in the work you do and you celebrate the accomplishments of those around you, work will be a lot more enjoyable. Find some way to remind yourself to mind your attitude. Find something fun and enjoyable about your work every day. And if your work is so miserable that you can’t find anything fun about it for a month straight, you need to quit and go find something you’ll enjoy before your job kills you.
So there you have it – a handful of things I wish you would do or think about going into 2014. While there’s no guarantee that doing the above will make your year successful, I can guarantee if you don’t do any of these things, your year won’t exceed your expectations and on December 30, 2014 you’ll find yourself saying “I should have done those things Mike mentioned in that blog post.”
Happy New Year everyone! Thanks (as always) for being readers. I hope you have a safe, joyous, and fun rest of the year and that 2014 is your best year yet!