5 Leadership Resolutions to Make in 2020

Article | Accountability Insights

by | Jan 2, 2020

Ready to build your leadership skills in the new year? Here are five resolutions to get you started.

On the eve of another new year, many of us take time to pause and reflect on months past. We acknowledge the accomplishments and challenges that brought us to the present, while eagerly betting on what the future has in store. New Year’s resolutions are an integral part of this annual ritual of reflection. But did you know that making resolutions is about more than simply playing along with tradition?

Leaders who clearly define and record their personal objectives know that goal-setting is serious business. Research shows that individuals who write down their goals and commitments, share them with a friend, and track their progress are 33% more likely to accomplish their goals than those who merely think about business-related goals. 

So as we head into 2020, it’s important to make goal-setting a top priority. Here are five leadership resolutions to help strengthen your good leadership skills in the new year:

1. Lead With Radical Transparency 

What company-wide goals have you developed? In what direction is your organization headed? Your employees deserve to know.

To illustrate why, take for example the corporate headquarters of a national retailer. At the outset of Q1, the leadership team decides that all stores must boost sales upwards of 15% by midyear. Regional managers quickly jump into action, frantically drawing up new strategic initiatives and reallocating funds across departments. But amidst this flurry, they forget one critical component — to communicate their new targets to employees. 

Employees with little to no understanding of these new initiatives struggle to find a sense of direction. They don’t know what they’re working towards on any given day, or why; and, as a result, employee engagement plummets. 

This scenario is one we see all too often. According to data from the Partners In Leadership Workplace Accountability Index, only 16% of employees strongly agree they have a clear understanding of their organization’s Key Results, or top organizational goals. It’s time to change that. 

Try dispensing information through a diverse array of channels guaranteed to reach employees at every level. Sending monthly — or even weekly — newsletters, crafting blog posts, hosting town halls, and regularly dropping by employee workstations to share new ideas are all examples of effective leadership skills in action. With these simple steps, you create greater alignment and fuel a sense of inclusion and collaboration within the workplace. 

2. Encourage Fearlessness 

Have you ever heard of a company that succeeded by sitting on the sidelines? Neither have we. An “adapt and overcome” attitude has taken hold of nearly every sector as companies push the boundaries of innovation and continuously raise the bar of success to new heights. 

Executives like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are just two examples of leaders proving that calculated risk-taking ranks high on the list of top leadership skills. These executives are blazing new trails within their industries and continue to ask themselves, “What’s next?”

Yet despite the business case for fearlessness, only 37% of employees believe that members of their organization are willing to take risks to find better solutions. How can you ensure your company’s employees are adaptable, brave, and willing to take risks to drive better results? 

By modeling and applauding fearlessness in the workplace, you encourage employees to do the same. Creative problem-solving flourishes when employees are empowered by a culture of accountability. In this type of environment, employees don’t turn their back on problems, but eagerly embrace them as opportunities to develop out-of-the-box solutions that set their company apart. They do not fear failure because they know that every team member is personally accountable for achieving organizational goals.

3. Leverage Team-Based Technology

Schedules are jam-packed, employees are dispersed across time zones, and the rate of change is increasing steadily. Is your team prepared to keep pace and navigate these challenges? It’s time to turn to technology. While technological advancements are at the root of many of these modern business challenges, they also offer unprecedented opportunity to help solve them and streamline the ways in which we work. Intuitive calendar applications, interactive project-management platforms, and cloud-based messaging platforms have all been developed to help leaders and their teams remain on track and in touch. 

But as an executive with good leadership skills, you know that these systems alone won’t cut it. This is where platforms designed to improve team performance by creating greater employee engagement and accountability for results are key. 

Multifaceted, team-based tools will help you communicate and gain alignment around top organizational goals, give and receive feedback, celebrate team members for critical wins, and quickly identify and resolve problems that surface. As you propel your team forward with technology that supports the culture you’ve created, you set your team up for sustained success today — and on the road ahead.

4. Check Your Ego at The Door

The great variety of different leadership styles that have proven truly effective all have one thing in common: they don’t support ego-driven agendas. 

Among the most effective leadership skills is recognizing that every employee’s insights and ideas are equally as valuable as your own. Frontline employees are those who see, day in and day out, business practices, processes, and policies in play. 

If sales are low in one particular department, who better to ask for insights than the salespeople on the showroom floor? They have firsthand knowledge of what’s working and what’s not and often have some of the most creative ideas for solving unique business challenges. 

When you seek feedback from your employees, you demonstrate respect and signify that their ideas and opinions are valued. At the same time, you facilitate collaboration and open the door to new ideas — ideas that would have otherwise sat in the minds of employees, waiting to be tapped. 

Despite the many benefits of feedback seeking, the Workplace Accountability Index has found that just 18% of employees strongly agree that their supervisors regularly ask them for feedback. 

Start the new year with a new routine. Schedule one-on-one feedback sessions where you give and seek feedback that can boost employee engagement and further progress toward key business results. 

5. Take Employee Recognition to New Heights

Regular recognition in the workplace serves two purposes: to boost employee morale and applaud efforts that align with company-wide organizational goals. When these two purposes are fulfilled, business results flourish. 

According to the Partners In Leadership Happier At Work survey, when employees feel happier at work, 85% say they take more initiative, 73% say they are better collaborators, and nearly half care more about their work. 

Disney is an example of a company taking recognition in the workplace to new heights. The company produces blog posts spotlighting employee successes, has a series of recognition awards, and even started a #CastCompliments hashtag that guests and colleagues alike can use to offer “shout outs” of employee appreciation. 

Two Disney employees, Louise Steward and Cindy Vallerga-Brown, who have worked for the company for more than 50 years, both remember Walt Disney himself stopping by to personally thank them for working on a holiday. Moments of recognition like these help employees at every level feel valued and appreciated. According to Vallerga-Brown, who started as a ticket-taker in 1966 and later became a Disney vacation planner, “I’ve always liked working for the Disneyland Resort. The difference is that now, I love it. This was my summer job. It’s just been a really long summer.”

Rounding Out Your Good Leadership Skills in the New Year

The resolutions listed above are just a few of the many leadership goals you can put in place to build your trove of effective leadership skills and set your teams up for success in Q1 and beyond. The resolutions you make are ultimately up to you — the important thing is putting specific goals in place. With direction and focus, any accomplishment is within reach. 

American author Mark Victor Hansen says it best: “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”