Resolved: Demonstrate Effective Leadership

It’s time to draft your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. What goals will you set for yourself in your professional life for the next twelve months?

Most of us have a hard time keeping our New Year’s Resolutions. Slashdot did an informal poll of readers a year ago and discovered 67% of respondents kept less than HALF their resolutions. Our tendency is to set New Year’s Resolutions but not change our behavior to accommodate desired outcomes.

You’re reading a blog on leadership and corporate culture, so I will suggest a leadership resolution for your list. If embraced, it will enable a workplace of better relationships, higher performance, positive customer experiences, and higher profits.

The resolution is “I will demonstrate effective leadership, every day.”

Monitor The Effectiveness of Your Leadership Efforts

Every person in an organization provides leadership. Some are formal leaders; all are informal leaders. Only when every player, every influencer, demonstrates these best practices can organizations reap the highest rewards.

There are three keys to increasing your leadership effectiveness. Each of the three best practices are vitally important and must be acted upon daily.

  • Clear Expectations – First, set and communicate your team’s strategy for the performance period (typically for your organization’s fiscal year). Once your strategy has been formalized, align team goals and team member goals to that strategy. Ensure that team member goals are aligned to team goals. Finally, set values expectations in the form of defined valued behaviors. These clarify how good corporate citizens treat employees, customers, and stakeholders.
    Monitor the clarity of these expectations often (at least monthly).
  • Total Accountability – With expectations clear, hold yourself and others accountable for their agreed-to goals. Practice consistent and proactive consequence management: praise goal effort and accomplishment as well as good citizenship (positive consequences), and redirect activities and behaviors that do not align with performance or values expectations (negative consequences).
    Monitor consistent accountability for expectations regularly (at least monthly).
  • Positive Relationships – Great relationships between peers and between bosses and followers do not happen naturally. Competition, pride, and ego can create a work environment where lousy relationships are the norm. Great relationships require listening, honesty, celebration, and validation of effort, contribution, and citizenship.
    Monitor your progress in regular one-on-one meetings. Schedule (and HOLD) one-on-one meetings (twice a month or more) with your boss and, if you are a formal leader, with each follower. Make it a point to discuss not only progress towards goals but progress towards a respectful, positive relationship.

Manage this resolution like you would any other desired outcome. Allocate formal time each week (1-2 hours) for specific activities that will increase your influencing effectiveness. Set goals for each of the areas above and regularly monitor your progress, as suggested in the bullets above.

One additional mechanism might keep you on track: share your “effective leadership” plan and goals with a trusted peer or boss. Ask them to help you monitor your progress and help hold you accountable.

Have I forgotten another critical area for effective leadership? Add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Look for Chris’ upcoming #POSITIVITY AT WORK tweet book, to be released by THiNKaha books this month.


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