I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Many people mean well, but they set themselves up for failure with overly ambitious goals that are abandoned by February. And here we are…
With that said, I do think leaders can benefit from analyzing the way they work and identifying opportunities for improvement. Think of it as a mental “reset.” I’ll admit, it takes discipline to step back and look at your behaviors, attitudes, and habits from an objective standpoint. But once you do, there’s tremendous value in dedicating yourself to do something different—either trying a new approach or letting one go.
Rather than thinking about shaking up your approach to work as a resolution, frame it as an intention. It still needs your full commitment, but it comes without the disheartening label of “failure” if you fall short.
So what are some ways you can be intentional about breaking out of your leadership rut? I have three suggestions.
First, resist your bias for action.
As humans, we are wired to get things done—to fix the problems, answer the questions, and finish the projects. As leaders, we’ve likely been praised and rewarded for our productivity. But there is also a downside to that. Our brains tend to shift into auto-pilot when we’re in constant motion, which dulls our ability to think creatively about our next steps.
Before you launch into action, learn to mentally hit pause and give your brain space to percolate. Is this really the best thing to do? Am I just doing it out of habit? Is there a better choice? When you resist that bias for action, you’ll give yourself time to think about tomorrow’s challenges, reflect on recent innovations that could impact your work, and create space for learning. Despite the propensity to feel less efficient, your results will inevitably improve.
Second, shed routine habits.
How many reports do you produce each month because….well, you always have? Is anyone still reading them? Do they provide any value? Repeatable tasks and functions are a natural way to accomplish more during the workday—but at what point are those actually undermining our productivity?
Take a cold, hard look at your to-do list. Has it taken on a life of its own? Rethink all of it! Everything on the list needs to prove it has the right to be there. If it doesn’t add value or help your team move forward, maybe it’s time to cross it off. Get clarity on what’s helping you reach your goals—and skip the rest.
Finally, seek out different perspectives.
As a leader, you’re probably known as a go-to resource for facts about your product, a campaign, an event, a particular client. Because of that perception, it’s easy to think your ideas carry greater weight than those unfamiliar with topics in your wheelhouse. (Why should I get advice from someone else when I’m the expert?) If we do reach out for another opinion, we run the risk of confirmation bias—looking for views that confirm our own thoughts.
Here’s the problem… That kind of thinking limits our ability to see all the different sides of issues and could reduce the quality of our solutions. Make it a habit to challenge your own thought processes. Try seeking out the perspectives of people who see things differently. Perhaps push yourself to consume content that you don’t typically follow. When you’re deliberate about stretching your views, you’ll quickly find that those different perspectives can broaden your horizons in unexpected, positive ways.
When you set the intention to shake up the status quo, you’ll find that small, yet meaningful changes can transform your ability to lead and elevate your impact.
Until next time,