As we make the transition into the New Year, and you don’t have the time to compile a binder’s worth of a strategic plan, at the very least you can implement one or a few of these leadership tips to help launch a better 2018. After attending over eight years worth of National Speakers Association (NSA) conventions, I have compiled my best thoughts and quotes on leadership, business, and team success that I heard.
- Have a beginner’s mind. By year eight, I had to resist the temptation to assume that I’d heard it all before. I had to set some intentions for my experience before I hopped on the plane. I planned to maintain an open mind, to be receptive to meeting new people, and to listen to different perspectives. And guess what? I met some of the coolest people ever, I learned so much that I thought my brain might explode, and I enjoyed the speakers’ unique approaches. In what areas are you getting a bit stale, or do you feel like you know all that there is to know? How might you approach your work with a beginner’s mind?
- Take time to think and reflect. Successful leaders schedule 1.5 – 3 hours per day for thinking, reading, learning, and reflecting. Emphasis on the word schedule. Successful people don’t just hope that this will happen, they plan for it. Bill Gates schedules a week per year (a full week — and you know he’s a busy guy!) where he goes away by himself and reads, thinks, and writes. If Bill Gates can do it, I figure so can I. Are you scheduling time for regular thinking, reading, and learning?
- Build your squad. Create your team. HR people, you may need to cover your eyes for this, but I recommend you hire slowly and fire quickly. Spend the time and effort necessary to make sure the person you hire fits with your organization’s culture and will be committed to the team. Get rid of the “Negative Nancys/Neds” and those people who aren’t contributing to the culture.
- Never do for team members/participants/students what they can do for themselves. I tend to “over-help,” which is really not helpful at all. If I take a task out of my team member‘s hands and do it for him, I’ve just sent the message that I don’t believe he’s capable of doing it well himself. Booker T. Washington said, “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” Where might you need to back off? How have you been “over-helping?” Who do you need to allow to take on responsibility?
- Get to the point. Did you know that social media is changing the way we form neural pathways in the brain? Goldfish have an attention span of 9 seconds. The average attention span of a modern-day human is less than that of a goldfish! (Thanks, Facebook!) Knowing this factoid, how might you adapt your communication and approach with team members? With customers?
- Say thank you. You likely didn’t get to where you are in business, your career, or in life, without somebody helping you somewhere along the way. Who served as a model for you as you came up the line? Who taught you, coached you, or mentored you? Why not drop those people a line, give them a call, or schedule a lunch or coffee date? And thank them. Today.
- So what? Now what? Despite popular belief, knowledge is not power. Rather, applied knowledge is power. You must take action. On my flight home from such learning experiences, I create an action plan, complete with goals and timelines by which I will apply my new knowledge. What have you learned recently that you need to act upon? What do you know that you need to do, but haven’t yet implemented?
What a better time than the present to do things you’ve had on your list all year. Get out that “thank you” in the form of a Christmas card. Compile your notes and key takeaways from your recent client visits and conferences. Take a moment to think when you sit by the fireside.
- How might you approach your work with a beginner’s mind?
- Who do you need to thank today?
- Are you scheduling time for learning, reading, and thinking?
We’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment on our blog below and share your insights with our community.
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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication. In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.