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Will your New Year have a leadership checklist?

As the festivities of Christmas seem a dim and distant memory, thoughts turn to the New Year ahead and what 2013 will hold.


Jennie Marshall | 3 January 2013

As the festivities of Christmas seem a dim and distant memory, thoughts turn to the New Year ahead and what 2013 will hold.

Having previously held leadership roles and now as a learning consultant, I've learned that getting off to a great start in a new year is very important. Over the course of my career I've assembled a very handy annual New Year's 'Checklist' that helps get me focused and ready for the challenges to come in the days and months ahead and well positioned for success.

So here are my 10 things to do to make it a great year.

1. Don't dive in head first - before you jump into the New Year full speed ahead, don't forget to pause and reflect on the year you just experienced - savour the victories, and learn from the setbacks. Talk about this with your team, as early in the year as possible. THEN, dive in.

2. Study up - make sure you take the time to study the details of your business or project plan for the year ahead. You don't have to memorise every word and number, but it's a big plus to absorb and conceptualise the full scope of what you're trying to accomplish. You'll feel ahead of the game right away - and that's a good place to be.

3. Read your fine print - every leader's strengths, if overplayed, can turn out to be a weakness - I call that the leader's 'fine print'; things that we need to be careful about. A good example of this is how a 'good' tendency to 'get things done' can turn 'bad' if you end up going overboard, getting too impatient, and steamrolling over people. Sort it all out early and become more aware of your 'fine print'.

4. Do a team sense check - take stock of your team and their strengths and weaknesses, and ask a few hard questions: is everyone committed to the New Year and the new plan? Did you have some unresolved issues from last year that are still hanging around? Do you need to reshuffle a few things now before things get too busy? Answer these questions now, take whatever corrective action is necessary, and give your team a better chance for success.

5. Keep raising the bar - while it may not be realistically feasible to keep setting higher targets on every measurable metric you have, at least try to raise one or two to higher levels than the year before. In my experience there is nothing better, and more motivating, than for a team to hit a 'best ever'one year, raise the target the next year, and then hit it again.

6. Synthesise goals - now that you've studied the business/project plan (see above), you need to reduce it to 'bite sized' pieces so it can be effectively communicated throughout the organisation and understood by everyone it affects. I'd try to keep the pieces to no more than 4 or 5, but once you come up with them, be relentless in your communication - post them everywhere, and your progress against them. Harness the power of the collective consciousness!

7. Reset and review your accountability meter - it's always a good idea to make sure your 'accountability meter' is set properly; what I mean by that is making sure your teammates know what their expectations are for the year, and once that is done, being prepared to lead using the 'full spectrum' of accountability against those expectations.

8. Clean out your ears - this one's quite simple - prepare your ears to listen. Sit down at your desk, close the door, and turn off your blackberry. Feel and 'hear' what it's like to not multitask, and just take in what's happening around you. Make a mental note to recreate this 'listening environment' every time you are in the presence of your teammates.

9. Give feedback early and often - while it's tempting to immerse yourself in all the nuts and bolts as you've set sail against your plan, don't forget to give your teammates as much feedback as possible, especially early on in the year. It's much harder to give course corrections later if the ship has drifted way off course.

10. Practice patience, tolerance and engagement - this may be the most important item of them all, and the hardest to do. It's so easy to get impatient, intolerant of critique, or adverse to conflict. Stay self aware! You don't have to be a Zen master, but it's important to stay centered, calm, open minded, receptive, and understanding. Especially when things aren't going your way.

So there you have it - my tips to get this year off to a great start. I won't end with a cheesy American saying like, "Go get 'em champ!". I will however wish you a successful 2013. For more information about leadership courses explore our portfolio .

Jennie Marshall
QA Learning Expert: Leadership, Management and Business Skills

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QA Training | Jennie-marshal

Jennie Marshall

Learning Programme Director (Enterprise and Outsource Services)

Jennie Marshall is an award winning learning professional (Winner of the 2016 Learning Performance Institute, Learning Professional of the Year Bronze Award), who joined QA in 2010 as a Learning Consultant in the Leadership, Management and Business Skills team. She has gone on to progress through various positions to her current role of Learning Programme Director where she now designs, develops and manages the delivery of end to end learning programmes. She is an experienced and dedicated learning professional, with expertise including management, leadership and talent, and training and facilitation developed within a variety of environments. Jennie has a proven track record of delivering blended, multi modal learning programmes using Learning Management System platforms and in a more traditional face to face setting, is at home with small and large audiences. She is a proven developer of people and is accredited in the use of a variety of tools including Strength Deployment Inventory®, Emergenetics®, Hogan®, Prism® and Worldsview™ as well as being an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Master Practitioner and Kirkpatrick Certified Professional (Bronze).
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