The beginning of the year is a typical time to read these types of suggestions. In many ways we ascribe a special significance to the beginning of the year as a time to proactively do things to improve our future. These actions are just as relevant whenever you may be reading (or re-reading) this – at any time of the year.
As leaders we know that being proactive is one of our most important attributes – for without a bias to act, we won’t be leading anyone anywhere.
The five actions suggested below can set a proactive tone for you and your whole team or organization. In fact, they apply equally well for anyone, leader or not, regardless of role. When you take these actions you will gain a new perspective, a new focus, and will move forward more resolutely and with greater energy.
The Five Actions
- Call ten Customers.
Now is the perfect time to call ten Customers and thank them for their business! This is NOT a sales call. It is a call to connect, thank people for the opportunity to serve them and to ask them for feedback. While this should be a regular task on your leadership list, now is a perfect time to pick up the phone, say thank you and ask for input. If you’re an internal leader and don’t deal with external Customers, this advice remains the same. Talk to those people you and your team support to thank them and ask for feedback. No matter who your Customers are you will gain credibility, learn a lot and perhaps set the stage for the next action.
- Pick a relationship to improve.
As a leader you have many relationships to manage. You have relationships with Customers, suppliers, your team, your peers and your boss(es). You have relationships across your network, and among your friends and family as well. Pick one. Pick one you feel needs some strengthening, or you believe needs some attention, or one you just want to improve for any other reason. Pick one and make it your goal to do whatever you can to improve that relationship in the coming days, weeks and months. Even if the relationship is outside of work, you will gain benefits as a leader from these efforts. There is no better time to pick one than right now.
- Find a focus.
You might think of this as a theme. Look at the months to come, the challenges you will face, the opportunities you see and the current state of your team and create a singular focused theme for the year. Share this with your team (or have them help you craft the wording from your initial ideas). Then use that theme to focus and unify the team in the days and weeks ahead. Use it as a guidepost to help you prioritize and maintain a proactive focus.
- Set goals with your team.
If you have an intact team or organizational goal setting process, these goals may already be set. If so, review them collaboratively in light of your theme. If not, use your theme as one input in creating the goals for the team as a whole and individuals in particular. As leaders we must role model goal setting and goal achievement behaviors, and there is absolutely no time like the present to do just that.
- Decide what you need to learn.
Each of the previous four actions will be inputs into this decision, but may not create a complete picture. As a leader who wants to improve and grow to help others create better results, you must be on a path of learning. More specifically, you must be intentional about your learning path. Investing the time to determine what you need and/or want to learn is an important step. Once you have taken this important step of deciding, then you can build a plan to help you achieve those learning objectives.
You’ve read the list. My suggestion is to do all of them. Even if you aren’t sold on or see yourself doing all five, before you leave this article and move onto your next task, commit to doing at least one of them. Of course the more of them you do, the greater edge you will gain. But, one is better than none, and becoming a Remarkable Leader requires that you move forward proactively doing things to help you learn, grow and stretch.
All five of these actions will do that for you. Happy New Year! It’s time to get started.
Potential Pointer: The actions suggested in this article are valuable anytime of the year. If you are reading this the 5th of January, the 5th of April or the 5th of September the value is the same. Take the time to take these actions and you will, in effect, create the start of a New Year! And all will help you become a more informed, confident and effective leader.
By Kevin Eikenberry