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Leading: Resolutions made and kept

December 28, 2017 -  By

As the days tick down on 2017, this holiday season provides the ideal time to pause and reflect on resolutions made and kept during the past year. That’s a wise next step to take before declaring your 2018 resolutions.

I shared thoughts last year at this time regarding the elusive nature of resolutions. The reality of our busy lives presents obstacles for keeping them, yet there are ways to combat those challenges and achieve desired results. When it comes to leadership, achieving stated goals is the ultimate expression of “leading by example;” there is no more powerful way to demonstrate leadership than by accomplishing what you said you were going to do at the start of the journey.

Leaders are not immune from the forces that undermine and sideline keeping resolutions. In fact, there are often greater forces working against them, since multiple people may be involved. The status quo is a powerful thing, but should not be mistaken for an immovable object. So, what can a leader do to create movement in the desired direction? He or she can:

1. Be crystal clear about the intended result. Foggy resolutions are the least likely to result in positive changes and are the easiest to ignore. For example, “improving customer service” could mean anything or almost nothing, while “improve customer satisfaction response rates from 88 percent to 95 percent on the customer survey” clearly states what you are determined to accomplish. On the personal side, here is one that might sound familiar: “Get in better shape,” compared to “combine strength and cardiovascular training to compete in and complete the Marine Corps Marathon on October 2018.” Here’s a crucial test: If you can’t measure progress, it isn’t crystal clear.

2. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew!” If you’ve successfully made and kept resolutions during the past year, odds are you didn’t have dozens of them in the works. (If you did, please share how you managed that super-human feat!) By defining and prioritizing those choices with the greatest potential for positive impact on your life and leadership, the odds go way up for actually getting something accomplished. If your final list includes more than three significant resolutions, leaders should continue refining it to match what’s desired with the available resources (time, information and capital) to produce the result.

3. Apply daily action. Failure to define what and when actions will be taken is like failing to water and fertilize a plant; it will quickly wilt and die without care. If it is important, schedule it and defend it. Your calendar is one of the most powerful weapons you have; use it to schedule your priorities for the season ahead. (If you want to truly take charge of your life and schedule, pick up a copy of “Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress, and Lead by Example” by Steve McClatchy; then actually read it!)

As you review what happened to your 2017 resolutions, you might test them against this simple list for insight into what was accomplished. Leaders use the past to inform the present, as plans are made for the future. Wishing you resolutions made and kept in 2018!

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About the Author:

William (Bill) Dellecker is the Chief Development Officer of HeartLand LLC, which is dedicated to building relationships and delivering exceptional service through leading commercial landscape firms across the Mid West and Mountain West. You can learn more about Heartland at Bill also writes regularly about business culture and leadership on his personal blog, cultivation(s).

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