As we commence the start of the new year, we instinctively regress and reflect on our past resolutions, which some we may have failed to accomplish, and then begin the crucial process of resetting our new priorities for the year.

An interesting perspective on this phenomenon comes from an uncited author who stated, “The past is there to look back at our mistakes, the future is there to make sure you don’t make the same ones.”

Taken from another perspective, “Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”

Therefore, as we all begin the new year we are encouraged to change for the better. We cannot wish it; we need to achieve it day by day.

Confirming this ability to have a successful new year, an interesting article was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. I will highlight their salient points and then make my comments in parentheses on how to not only add this to your leadership domain, but more importantly, how to have a successful 2020 with increased vigor, purpose and passion.

1. Leading yourself: Staying healthy. (Given the advent of technology, we are tethered to almost 24-hour access via our cell phones, laptops, or other technological devices that keep us on-call at a moment’s notice. However, we need to eat healthy, exercise, manage our stress levels and expectations that others may have regarding our abilities, and get adequate sleep. The key is to manage stress and not let life’s pressures manage us.)

2. Leading yourself: Succeed at digital learning. (Leaders excel at acquiring new knowledge and applying technology to enhance rather than detract the learning processes. With limited resources of time and energy, successful learning is predicated on learning new systems, technology, managing your resources, and celebrating your successes.)

3. Leading yourself: Stop wasting time at meetings. (Only have meetings when they are critical and can accomplish the task at hand. Have a set agenda and do not hold marathon meetings that waste everyone’s time and resources. If someone complains make sure they have a workable solution. Decide in advance what the meeting’s objectives are and hold others to the standard of achieving the goal.)

4. Leading others: Make better group decisions. (This is accomplished by defining the task; choose the optimal decision-making process; develop decision-making criteria; encourage at least three alternatives via brain-storming sessions; select the best alternative using the agreed-upon methodology. Do not engage or allow groupthink and make everyone accountable for offering solutions rather than problems; develop action plans, and then take the appropriate action to achieve the goals or objectives of the organizational problem. Finally, review the procedures and action plan and determine if is feasible and a proven workable solution.)

5. Leading others: Support your direct reports in their development efforts: (Great leaders ignite their direct report’s passions coupled with the organization’s purpose. This is accomplished by discussing with your direct reports their goals and how to focus and capitalize on any given opportunity within the organization. Allow others in the organization to fail and then use those crucible learning moments to teach others through these lessons. Finally, give your direct report the resources and ability to engage, learn, and prosper through autonomy to achieve the task at hand.)

6. Leading others: Managing your team through change. (The only constant in the universe is change. Adapt to change or perish. Train your team to acknowledge the ever-present change strategies that the external as well as internal environment exerts on the organization. Communicate your intent to accept change and deal with this head-on. Act and communicate the why and how to acclimate to change, and reward those who manage the change in the organization effectively.)

7. Leading the organization: Help frontline managers master their roles. (Frontline managers need to master Emotional Intelligence (EI); embrace and accomplish being political savvy; have the requisite learning agility and the ability to influence others and outcomes, and comprise the relationship skills of communication and motivating others in the organization.)

8. Leading the organization: Nurturing innovation instead of squashing it: (Innovators or disruptive innovators are catapulted by a three-prong approach: Leaders demonstrate trust in innovators and empower them; keep the purpose of innovation to the front-and-center to motivate, inspire, and focus innovators, and partner with innovators as equals to contribute and share the risk with thought leaders and workers in the organization.)

Given the above tenets for starting the new year with vim and vigor, George Bernard Shaw stated so eloquently, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

As I have frequently written regarding personal excellence, excellence is never a choice, but rather, it is a habit that is repeated every day. It requires we learn from our mistakes and look forward to tomorrow where we have not only learned from those mistakes, but we will never repeat them.

As a final point, Confucius articulated so long ago, “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential ... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

Therefore, it is my sincere wish for all of you to have a great 2020. Please be safe, healthy, prosper, and achieve your purpose by being excellent in everything you do. Cheers!

Dr. Edward Piatt, Ed.D., is a retired manager from the state of Illinois with 32 years of frontline leadership experience. He is an adjunct professor of business in the MBA and MOL programs at Olivet Nazarene University, and a doctoral advisor and adjunct doctoral professor at Trevecca University. He is also an organizational/economic development consultant and lectures frequently on Emotional Intelligence (EI), organizational culture, and leadership. You may contact him at epiatt@olivet.edu.

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