Ten New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Management and Leadership

by Denny Strigl

For most managers the beginning of a new year means establishing a new set of objectives.
Every year during the first week of January I communicated my company goals in writing and in meetings with groups of managers.   I asked my managers to provide me with a statement or “performance agreement” (preferably written on one page or less) of their objectives for the year.  During the second week in January I met with each of the managers who worked directly for me to discuss and agree upon their objectives for the year.  The objectives we agreed upon were always quantifiable and measurable.  (For more specific information on setting goals/objectives /targets please refer to Managers, Can You Hear Me Now? Chapter 3, “The First Obligation of a Manager: Get Results.”)

At the beginning of every New Year I also gave a lot of thought to how I could become a more effective manager.  (Some years I would truly agonize over this – especially if I hadn’t reached a few of my objectives during the prior year.)  I would then make a list of my new year’s resolutions for becoming a better manager.  I kept the list in my top desk drawer and pulled it out every couple of weeks as a reminder and to check on my progress.

Today I reviewed several of my old hand written lists of New Year’s resolutions.  In no particular order please find listed below a sampling of the things I resolved to do over the years in hopes of making myself a more effective leader.  Feel free to use any of these ideas if you think they might be good reminders for you as you work your way through the new year.

  1. Tell it like it is – Communicate directly and succinctly.  If there is bad news to deliver, get it out.  Don’t try to make believe things are better than they really are.  Always be honest about everything.
  2. Keep your cool – Deal with every situation in a calm, unemotional manner.  Be polite, but firm, and work to find a resolution to issues rather than to place blame.  Always be respectful of others.
  3. Never set the tone for whining and complaining – Be optimistic.  Don’t tolerate whining and complaining either from yourself or the people you work with.  There is no room for self-pity.
  4. It’s not about me – I, as an individual, am not important.  What is important is my company, my group and the people I work with everyday.  Give credit to others for a job well done.  Take responsibility for shortcomings.
  5. If you touch it, you own it – If you find a problem you must get it fixed even if the solution resides outside of your own area of responsibility.  Don’t back away from a problem.  Don’t blame someone else.   Get it fixed.
  6. Get out of your office – Spend as much time as possible with employees and customers.  Learn the issues first hand.  Work to solve problems when and where they occur.
  7. Stop attending useless meetings – Don’t waste time in meetings that don’t relate to growing revenue, getting new customers, keeping the customers you already have and/or cutting costs.  Start and end meetings on time.  Be respectful of other people’s time.
  8. Learn something new everyday – Never stop learning.  Learn at least one new thing every day.  Improve your mind and enhance your skills.
  9. Send clear messages – Be brief.  Be concise.  Less is best.  If it can’t be said or written on one-half of one side of one sheet of paper, find a way that it can be said in fewer words.  Your employees will follow you when they understand what you want them to do and why you want them to do it.
  10. Admit mistakes early; correct them quickly – Never be afraid to admit you were wrong.  Admit it, correct it, and move on.

May your 2012 be filled with much success.

Happy New Year!

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