I spent many years working as an aerospace engineer designing and developing rocket engines. When launch day arrived, there was always some excitement and a tangible anticipation of success. Your leadership launch day is Jan 1, 2017.
Please think of yourself perched on the leadership launch pad of 2017. You are now completing the last few priorities of 2016 and looking forward to a fresh start at the beginning of 2017.
Lots of people make New Year’s resolutions at this time of year. We imagine that things are going to be different on New Year’s Day. But things really don’t change with the flip of a calendar. However, people change and then people change things.
Here are some ways to enhance your leadership in 2017. I believe there are better days ahead if we can follow the following 8 principles.
- Be boldly realistic
Some people prefer big changes that literally shock their system into a new reality. Others respond better to small incremental changes over time. Either way the goal is simply to make a change for the better realizing that bold changes will take effort with a good measure of perseverance.
The longest journey begins with a single step keeping the destination in mind. The journey could be a walk around the block or the completion of the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail. Bold changes create a sense of adventure. They bring out the best in a person who is focused on a positive future.
- Write it down
It sounds simple but writing something down makes it more real. Printing it in large font and posting it on the wall of your office or home gives it life. Reading it aloud every morning makes it a habit. Perhaps changing your login password to “praymore” could open a whole new dimension of communion with God.
Honestly, if a leader is unwilling to make the effort to write down their intended changes, they probably won’t be able to sustain the effort to reach their new goals and objectives.
- Get some accountability
Going public with your intentions moves them from remaining mere dreams to creating the need for some resourceful strategies. Talking to friends and family members provides either a bit of skepticism about your desire to make some changes or it could possibly result in a much needed source of encouragement over time.
Talking to others who have already achieved what you are seeking makes your goals less intimidating. Their success increases your self-confidence and their inspiration enhances your enthusiasm. Request their help and ask them to hold you accountable for making steady progress.
- Take action
Often it is easier to change the course of something that is already moving than to overcome the forces that keep it from moving. Beginnings are important. Leaders take positive action to start well. Then they make changes to enhance what is working well and adjust areas that need development.
Agility is a much needed characteristic in sports and in business. An agile leader is constantly learning how to analyze and understand new situations. Then they act.
- Find resources
Leaders appreciate that resources are needed to accomplish anything of value. It is a matter of understanding what is needed and finding a way to obtain it. Many times someone already has what is needed and is willing to share it given the opportunity.
Leaders should not be pushed into doing something at the wrong time with less than adequate resources. It is difficult to recover from a place of weakness and lack of resources is a deterrent to success.
- Stop doing something
Seriously, what would happen if you stopped doing something that you thought was really important? Would anyone notice? Sometimes others miss the point of what leaders think is so important.
Perhaps someone else can do what you were doing. They might do it even better. The extra time leaders have could be used for doing something else or maybe for doing nothing at all. Now that’s something to think about.
- Take responsibility
Leaders should be mindful of their duties and obligations. Sometimes their actions result in positive outcomes and sometimes there are some unpleasant surprises. In either case, leaders should step up to owning the consequences.
Leaders don’t grumble. Complaining quenches enthusiasm for accomplishing the difficult and diminishes the person.
- Lead like a servant
Leadership is a both a skill and an art. It is a skill that can be developed and it is an art that can be practiced with time and experience. A servant leader serves others wholeheartedly with pure motives. They avoid the showcase of leadership to steward others in creating positive change.
Service is the essence of real leadership. It is not difficult to follow a leader who has the heart of a servant ready to lead others with a vision of a better future.
Your leadership launch pad is all yours. The beginning of a new year is always a good time to pause and reflect on the last 365 days. Count them. Each day had its opportunities and challenges. I suggest that 2017 will be pretty much the same.
A long time ago Joshua gave orders that when the people saw the Ark of the Covenant start to move they should follow it. Joshua 3:4 (NIV) declares “you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before.” We surely don’t know what awaits us during 2017. It is all new, and based on the past, I suppose there will be some real challenges ahead. But I know that God’ presence precedes me, and I will follow God’s leading. That’s good enough for me. Liftoff!
Dr. Paul E. Greasley is an adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and The Kings University, an experienced servant leader, a retired aerospace engineering manager, a big rig truck driver, an active community volunteer, and an entrepreneurial business owner. He can be reached at www.timelyleadership.com.