It’s hard to resist the feeling of personal and professional rebirth that comes with the passing of one year into another. A fresh start is cathartic and motivating. Of course, as anyone who has resolved to change and failed by February knows, this feeling is fleeting as human nature runs smack into real life. That’s why the most effective leaders understand that daily discipline always trumps annual resolutions.
Lead With Empathy
One leader I know starts her day by reminding herself of the saying, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
I’m thankful for learning this lesson from her. My typical approach as a younger manager was to run straight at issues and people. I got things done, but the approach lacked empathy (to put it mildly).
Now, instead of bulldozing my way through people and issues, I collaborate. I take the time to uncover interests and to find ways to design solutions that meet more than my own needs.
It might sound like I’ve compromised my commitment to results, but that’s not the case. By pausing and recognizing the individual(s) and their perspectives, I’ve achieved a multiplier effect.
Resolve to start each day and approach each encounter by reminding yourself to “be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”
Prepare Your Attitude for Success
Another leader taught me the power of preparing my attitude to succeed with and through others every single day. Something interesting happens when you take the few minutes needed to focus on being yourself at your best during this upcoming day.
You will fail in moments—it’s inevitable. However, you will succeed far more often because you took the time to purge the negative and start the day with a positive attitude dedicated to succeeding with and through others.
I find this approach helpful in pushing out the negative hangover from prior days. Some people go to work expecting a daily cr@p sandwich.
Instead, resolve daily to prepare your attitude for success, not pain.
Resolve each day to bring your best attitude to your work, regardless of circumstances.
Succeed One Encounter at a Time
A third leader offered his own (similar) take on daily resolutions. His approach is to view the day as a series of discrete encounters where he commits to succeeding with each one.
It doesn’t matter if the encounter is an irate customer, a CEO concerned about the quarterly numbers, or, a project team running off the rails. He approaches each of these with the intent to leave the situation better off than he found it.
While he admits to occasionally failing in the moment, he believes that his daily resolution pushes him to admit and fix failures.
Resolve daily to succeed one encounter at a time.
Common Threads of Success
I love these techniques for their simplicity and power. They support the development of higher order leadership behaviors. They promote continuous personal improvement. And, the behaviors support creating a working environment where people are free from fear and focused on creating, problem-solving and accomplishing.
You don’t need an advanced degree, 360-degree review, executive coach, or expensive course to adopt one or all of the great habits described above. And instead of failing by February, your daily reminders will groove deep channels in your brain to support continuous improvement and success throughout the year.
Art Petty is a coach and consultant working with executives and management teams to unlock business and human potential. He writes the Leadership Caffeine blog.