- January 10, 2019
- Posted by: erickruger
- Category: CEO Ascent, Coaching
Whether you love or hate new year’s and the resolutions that goes with it there is one thing that you cannot deny. The new year brings with it an enormous amount of positive energy. Great leaders recognize this and capitalise on it. Not only for themselves but also for their employees.
Last year I spent hundreds of hours coaching entrepreneurs and executives. So, in this short post I want to highlight some of the most frequent challenges my clients faced and present them to you as resolutions or goals to work towards in your own professional and personal capacity.
A quick note, do not think of this as a new year’s resolution i.e. a glorified goal. Think of it as defined by the dictionary – a firm decision to do or not to do something.
1. Model Better Behaviour
“Your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Society has gone crazy. We think an 80-hour work week is admirable. That being always-on is a necessity for running a business. That if we take any time off for ourselves then we are stealing time from the hustle.
As leader, you will undoubtedly feel the pressure that comes from such expectations. How you handle the pressure will determine a lot more than just the quality of your own life.
The people around you, your employees and colleagues, are likely to model your behaviour. Taken a step further, when enough people model your behaviour, your behaviour becomes company culture.
Choose your actions carefully, knowing that someone is always watching.
2. Improve The Way You Communicate
Action is not enough though.
It’s imperative that we communicate openly and consistently with the people that we lead. Thinking that people will simply follow your example is a sure-fire way to be disappointed. You have to be clear on what you expect from them.
“Leadership is selling. And selling is talking” J. Humes
I love this quote. As a leader you are selling people on the idea of trading their time and energy to help you create something meaningful.
Selling might seem like the wrong word to use here but I think it’s quite apt. When we look at presidential campaigning it’s all about selling a certain future:
“Yes, we can”
“Make America great again”
If you want this future then follow me.
The actions that you take will sell people on your leadership abilities. See point 1.
However, you should never stop selling the dream. You should never stop telling people what they are working towards. You should never stop giving feedback that will help people improve. You should never stop inspiring, motivating, and educating the people that work for you.
My friend, Richard Mulholland, has written a great book titled Boredom Slayer on how to become a better communicator. You can find the Kindle version here.
3. Let Go of How Things Should Be
We all have certain automatic operating procedures that we follow. You can identify it by looking for statements that contains the word “should”.
We show up as a certain type of leader because that’s how we think we should show up.
We treat people in a certain way because that’s how we should treat people.
We play the role of leader, parent, partner in a certain way because that’s how we think we should play it.
The idea is not to cut all the “should’s” out of your life.
But rather to take stock of the ones that aren’t serving you and that limit your potential. To remove or change the ones that don’t align with your values and your true authentic-self. Because often the “should’s” are nothing but adopted ideas from a flawed society.
4. Breathe Accountability
Accountability is a much bigger part of the success equation than it gets credit for.
I’ll be writing a more in-depth post about accountability in the future. For now, I want to leave you with the idea that you need to create accountability for yourself and the people in your organisation. See point 1.
The most important thing that accountability does is that it holds you to a certain standard. For it to work there needs to be clear communication about expectations and the freedom to give constructive feedback when necessary.
Accountability really boils down to this: if I say that I am going to do something, I do it.
How will you model that for your team?
5. Fix & Maintain Your Boundaries
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges leaders face is to change the ratio of yes:no for requests of their time.
When you are quick to say yes you are most likely running the following script in your head:
I am a good, accommodating, helpful person and therefore I should say yes to requests from friends, family, and colleagues.
See, how that pesky “should” crept back into your life.
Step 1 in the pursuit of a better yes:no ratio is to unbundle your identity from the way you handle requests for your time. Saying no does not make you a bad person. You can turn down requests without being an asshole. One of my favourite examples is this letter that Derek Sivers sent David Baker when he was requested to write a foreword for David’s book:
Hi David, So sorry I have to say no to writing the foreword, but please don’t take it personally because I’m saying no to absolutely everything! I’m years behind in my own projects, so I’ve vowed to add nothing new to my life until my already-started things are finished. If you are interested in some more thoughts on this, search for my article on “Saying no to everything else.” Also, I’m not an entrepreneur anymore, so don’t feel qualified to say anything about it. As I wrote recently, you have to keep earning your title or it expires, and it’s been years since I started a company. I’m honored that you asked, though, and I wish you the best. Let’s stay in touch. Derek Sivers
What happened for you as you read this letter?
Personally, my respect for Derek Sivers exponentially increased. This letter is about saying no. But more than it communicates clear thinking and goals.
Your time is limited. Make it count. People will understand when you gently decline them to focus on the things that are important to you. If they don’t, it’s not really your problem.
If this post has resonated with you then I’d like to encourage you to check out CEO Ascent. The challenges of leadership is real but not unique. CEO Ascent is a community of CEO’s & Executives that encourages learning, self-development, and peer support.