11 Leadership Ideas for a New Year
With all the Top 10 lists of 2010 behind us, we thought we'd start out the new year with a list of leadership ideas -- 11 for 2011 -- you can put to use today and get yourself and your team off to a strong start in the new year.
- Huddle up. Set aside 10 to 15 minutes a few times a week to have an informal, standup meeting with your team -- or, for virtual teams, a dial-up exchange. No agendas, no conference rooms, just a brief team huddle to casually talk about project issues, weekend plans and share updates.
- Say 'thank you' for feedback. Not everyone feels comfortable sharing feedback. So while it's important to say thanks to everyone that weighs in on a topic, it's especially important to thank employees who step out of their comfort zone and speak up.
- Review goals often. It's easy to get caught up in our day-to-day tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture. Carve out time of each staff meeting to review how you're doing in achieving quarterly or annual goals.
- Step-up skip levels. We've talked about the impact a skip-level meeting can have for participants and the organization. Tap into this resource to expand your learning about the business and its pool of talent.
- Keep it simple. It would be nice to think that employees drop everything, clear their minds and focus on correspondence with 100 percent of their attention. But they won't. That's why we need to keep our communications in electronic, voice and print form to be crisp, simple and actionable.
- Use technology to strengthen team. If you have remote employees on your team, upgrade the tried-and-true conference call and start hosting video calls using Skype or a similar service.
- Respond quickly. When employees or colleagues provide feedback, you need to provide a timely response. Speed matters and we say that 24 hours (or sooner) is the sweet spot for responding. Anything longer and you’ll lose credibility and give the impression you’re not interested, don’t listen and/or don’t value feedback.
- Firm up data points. During a blizzard is not when you want to discover that a key team member has a new cell-phone number. Create a frequently updated document with your team's phone numbers, email addresses and home address information.
- Be a bookworm. Encourage your team to pickup titles that can broaden their skills, sharpen a specific knowledge area, or inspire them to take on a leadership role. Use your training and development budget to fund these books. It's an inexpensive investment in your team's future.
- Get humble. Most leaders intimately know their products, the markets and the competition, but most don't know the true dynamics about their workplace and their workforce. Admitting that they don't know everything about their business -- as uncomfortable as that may be -- is a sign of a strong, confident leader.
- Set aside time to think. The old adage "can't see the forest for the trees" is truer than many of us want to admit. Do yourself and your team a favor, jump off the fast track for an hour each week and give yourself a moment to think.