Your Leadership Strategy for 2014
by Kimberly Gladis
Like many leaders, you likely embarked on some form of strategic planning process with your team to hit the ground running after the New Year. On the other hand, if you haven’t established that annual plan you are probably scrambling to do so now. But when was the last time you developed your own personal leadership strategy for the year? It’s probably one of the most important things that can help your company actually achieve its goals since leaders set the tone and the pace for the organization.
Setting your personal leadership strategy is similar to the organizational planning process. I look at it in 3 distinct phases—THINK. PLAN. EXECUTE.
First, start by asking yourself the following questions:
- How do I want to be perceived as a leader this time next year?
- How do I want to interact with my team and colleagues?
- What do I want people to remember about my leadership?
- What kinds of behaviors do I want to model for my employees?
- How do I want my team to feel under my leadership?
Once you have determined what your desired leadership will look and feel like at the end of 2014, it is time to reflect and assess your starting point. Information provided by a 360-degree review would be very valuable at this step, as you will have candid, unfiltered feedback from which to establish your baseline. In the absence of this important data, consider taking a personal inventory by spending time thinking back over the year. Or better yet, do an anonymous survey via a tool like Survey Monkey, allowing for employee confidentiality, to get quick feedback on a few key areas.
Next, think about the different ways you might be able to get from your current starting point to the end goal by this time next year. What are some options you have? What things can you try? What resources do you have available to you? Who do you look to as a role model/mentor for the leadership style you are looking to develop? What kinds of support do you need?
After collecting all the options for reaching your desired leadership goal, it’s time for more thinking – evaluate the options based on their impact vs effort and select the best path forward. For example, you might feel that getting a graduate degree is key for leadership credibility in your field. You would need to evaluate the time and cost of this approach with the other options you have identified, such as taking a condensed course to get started and begin gaining that credibility in 2014. Or, perhaps you would like to be known as a leader who collaborates well across the organization. What would this look and feel like? There could be many ways to approach this, but which are the ones that will visibly demonstrate to your team the behaviors you are trying to model?
Select the best strategy and plan out the action steps. Choose 2 or 3 things you are going to commit to for the new year. With more than that you’re setting yourself up for failure. Map out the accompanying action steps needed. Sometimes a blank calendar or timeline can be helpful in visualizing the steps in this section. Consider all the factors that might come into play as you are looking to implement these leadership changes, such as the time of year, typical workload ebb and flow, company milestones, etc. For example, attempting a motivational team offsite in mid-July might be tough if that is when many of your employees take vacation, but it might be a good time for you to attend a leadership development course because it will be slower in the office.
Finally (and arguably most importantly), it’s about executing your leadership strategic plan. Put your thoughts into action and take the first steps. As an example, if you decide that increased face time with your team would have the greatest impact and your selected tactic is to set up monthly 1:1 lunches with each member of your team, do it—put the meetings on the calendar for the entire year and honor that scheduled time. Keep your goals visible so they stay top of mind, and find someone to help hold you accountable to your own commitments, whether it be a coach, friend, or family member.
While it’s vitally important to have a company strategic plan, the organization’s chance of achieving its goals could be adversely impacted if its leaders are not actively working on improving themselves and finding ways to support the needs of their employees.
Steve Gladis Leadership Partners
CorePerformX Advisory Group