Let me state this up front: I’m horrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions.
I’m guessing you’re not much better at it than I am. Surveys have shown that just a few days into the new year, 22% of people have already broken their resolution and 11% have abandoned it altogether! In fact, just 8% actually keep their resolution the entire year.
Our inability to stand by our resolutions is not for lack of knowledge. Most of us know all the tips and tricks, such as starting with small, achievable goals and then working up to larger ones. Or making sure goals are specific and trackable so we can clearly measure progress. Another good tip is to focus on the process of achieving the goal, rather than the goal itself—and, of course, to ensure the goal is connected to our values so that we’ll be motivated to stick with it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know all that stuff. So why do we still stink at sticking to resolutions?
Resolve to be rather than do
I think it may be connected to focusing too much on doing rather than being. Let me explain what I mean.
Our culture is hyper-focused on productivity. We are constantly in search of the latest hack that makes life (and work) easier, faster, simpler, or more efficient. We are obsessed with theories, methods, books, and other products that promise the path to a more meaningful life is through optimizing our personal productivity.
Of course it’s important to be organized and make productive use of our time, but I think it’s even more important to be concerned about the inner state of our being. It’s more comfortable for us, emotionally and psychologically, to focus on the external: what we do. Its scarier to focus inward, peel back the layers of what we believe and value, and truly examine our state of being. Yet, it’s that inner work that must be done if we’re ever going to tap into the greatest source of our leadership inspiration.
So, instead of setting another resolution about something you want to do, consider how you want to be in 2023.
Align the Heart and Head of Leadership
Leadership is an inside-out process. It starts on the inside with our heart and head, then moves to the outside with our hands and habits.
The heart of leadership is your motivation for leading. Most of us haven’t given much thought to our motivation for being a leader. Many people find themselves in positions of leadership because it’s the most direct path to earning more money, gaining influence, or climbing the corporate ladder. At some point, we must ask ourselves the uncomfortable question that reveals our true motivation for leading: “Am I here to serve or to be served?”
Self-serving leaders tend to have the mindset that leadership is all about them. They pursue leadership to have more power, influence, budget authority, a better office, and the perks that come along with their title or position. Servant leaders, on the other hand, focus on what they can give rather than get. Their goals are to support their team members to grow personally and professionally and to help the organization achieve its goals.
The head part of leadership concerns your beliefs and values regarding leadership. All great leaders have a specific point of view that defines their relationship with those they seek to influence, yet most leaders haven’t taken the time to do the important work of understanding where their unique perspective originated.
What are your values? What are your beliefs about leading others? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, you are susceptible to being drawn off course. A leader without a purpose is like a boat without a rudder—taken wherever the wind blows.
You can develop your leadership point of view by examining the key events and people in your life that have shaped your beliefs about leadership. What lessons did you learn from those key events and people? Based on those lessons, what are your top three to five values when leading? As a result, what do you expect of yourself and your team members? Answering these questions will start you on the path to defining your leadership point of view and, ultimately, sharing it with others.
Harmonize the Hands and Habits of Leadership
After we’ve done the inner work of leadership—aligning our heart (motivation) and head (beliefs), we can turn our attention to the outside—our hands and habits. This is where productivity tools and techniques come in handy.
Our hands are what I like to call “servant leadership in action.” It’s the actions people see from us, day in and day out, that illustrate we are walking the talk of being a servant leader. What does that look like? Well, let’s start with the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Servant leaders set a clear vision for their people to follow. They help others understand the purpose of the team/organization, the results they’re trying to achieve, and the values that will guide their journey.
Once the vision is clear, servant leaders focus on the service aspect of their role. They provide team members with the direction, support, and resources needed to achieve their goals. They offer regular feedback and redirection when needed and celebrate success at every opportunity.
Our habits are the daily practices we follow that help us deliver on our good intentions. Examples of servant leadership habits include holding regular one-on-one meetings with team members, practicing active listening, devoting time to self-development, seeking feedback from others, and periodically assessing our own performance.
How Will You Be Different in 2023?
One of my favorite principles that Ken Blanchard and I share in our book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, is Simple Truth #25: It’s not about you – Rick Warren. The goal of effective servant leaders is to serve their people and make sure they know their contributions are valued. These leaders realize that leadership is not about them; it’s about the people they serve. However, even though servant leadership isn’t about you, it does start with you!
So, as you contemplate resolutions for the new year, I challenge you to not think about what you want to do. Instead, think about how you want to be. Align your heart and head to be in harmony with your hands and habits and watch your leadership soar to the next level in the year ahead.
About the AuthorMore Content by Randy Conley