Here we are, one week into the new year. Many people are emerging from their holiday cocoons to re-engage with the real world, now that it’s time to head back to work, school, and the routine of life. But before you hop back on that hamster wheel, why not take some time to consider who you want to be in 2018?
I recently read an article by Margaret Wheatley, published in the Summer 2017 issue of Leader to Leader Magazine, in which she poses several insightful questions to help us think about how we want to influence others through our leadership. We live in a crazy and chaotic world that only seems to grow more so by the day. It’s hard not to become pessimistic about the state of our world and our ability to create positive change. However, the one area we have the most control over is our own sphere of influence. We can choose the kind of leaders we want to be. We can choose how we want to show up each day. We can choose how we treat people under our care. But first, we have to be clear on the kind of leaders we want to be. Use these questions to think about the kind of leader you want to be in 2018:
Quality of Relationships: How are you relating to those around you? Is trust increasing or decreasing? Are you investing more or less time in developing strong relationships? Are people more or less self-protective and what can you do to increase a sense of safety in your group? Are you willing to go the extra mile or not? What is the evidence for your answers?
Fear versus Love: Examine your relationships and see if there are patterns that illustrate the growth of fear or love. In your leadership, what role does fear play? Are you using fear as a lever to ensure compliance? Do you believe there is a place for love in leadership? Would the people in your sphere of influence say you lead with love or fear?
Quality of Thinking: How difficult is it to find time to think, personally and with others? Do you consider “busyness” a badge of honor (it isn’t!)? Are you in control of your calendar or does your calendar control you? How would you assess the level of learning in your organization? Are you applying what you’ve learned? Is long-term thinking still happening in conversations, decision-making, or planning?
Willingness to Contribute: What invitations to contribute have you extended and why? How have people responded? Ongoing, what are your expectations for people being willing to step forward? Are those higher or lower than a few years ago?
The Role of Money: How big an influence, as a percentage of other criteria, do financial issues have on decisions? Has money become a motivator for you? For staff? Has selfishness replaced service? What’s your evidence?
Crisis Management: What do you do when something goes wrong? Do leaders retreat or gather people together? How well do you communicate during crises? Are you prone to share information or withhold it? Do you use challenges as an opportunity to build trust and resilience? Are your values evident in the decisions you make in the heat of the moment?
Margaret and I share the same view that leadership is a noble calling. Leaders are entrusted to care for those under their charge and to help them develop to their full potential. We can’t fulfill that noble purpose if our head is constantly down and our eyes focused just on today’s to-do list. We need to lift our eyes up, gaze into the future, and thoughtfully consider how we want to grow as leaders. These categories of questions offer an excellent starting point for somber introspection. So before you rush off into 2018, getting busy with all of your plans and goals, pause for a bit to consider who you actually want to be in the year ahead.
Here’s to a great 2018!
Very good post!
Thanks Ryan! Best wishes to you in 2018.
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I love how you said, “what can you do to increase the sense of safety in your group.” Because I’ve been that employee is who didn’t feel safe in my job. No, not physical safety, but trust and support. Being micromanaged, having forced changes that didn’t help me, and then benefits start getting cut. If I don’t mentally feel safe in my job security, then I’m not going to be free mentally to work hard. I’ve had managers roll up their sleeves and do the hard work alongside me (these are the ones I have loved). And then there have been those who just walk by, see the mess…and keep walking.
This article was a very good reminder that if you want to have great employees at their full potential, it takes quality leaders who are willing to work, change, and grow themselves.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. When people feel psychologically unsafe in their work environment, they withhold trust, commitment, creativity, and their discretionary energy. The organization ends up getting people who have “quit and stayed.” Mentally and emotionally they have checked out, but they still show up every day collecting a paycheck. It’s the leader’s responsibility to nurture an environment of safety so people are free to give their best efforts.
Best to you,