New Year's Leadership Resolutions

Nathan Eklund looks to the future by learning from the past and helps all those who are not quite sure what resolutions to make for the New Year.  The list is simple, short, and difficult for many leaders.

I've written before about how I don't think there are a whole lot of ways a leader can improve that are different from how a person should improve. In other words, if you want to be a better, gentler, more effective leader, you probably need to be a better, gentler, more effective person.

But 'tis the season for resolutions, so here are my most common observances amongst leaders and how you can set a course for a compelling year of leadership:

1. Listen more. Talk less.

The people I see who are really, really good at leading people typically hold the mic the least. If you're truly confident in yourself, you really don't need to talk so much. Ask better questions. Give fewer speeches. Then ask more questions. Of more people.

2. Model the behavior you publicly talk about.

Especially in terms of setting decent parameters between work and life. Too often, I hear leaders plea with their people, "I want you to be happy. I want you to take care of yourselves." Then the leader will send out 2:00 a.m. emails or work 8 days a week and generally look sort of miserable. Regardless, everyone's watching. You either sound hypocritical or a bit delusional. Follow your own advice.

And finally the big one.

3. Remember you lead people, not plans.

You don't run a "company." You don't direct "a plan." It's all about people. Everything. 99% of the bandwidth of a good leader is consumed by leading people. This is a mathematical fact. Look it up on Bing or MySpace. Every single day you go to work as a leader it is to inspire, support, challenge, guide, and connect with people. Leaders who lose sight of that lose sight of everything.

I wish you a fantastic year ahead. Be an unusually good leader and do so with resolve. And stay in touch. We'll leave the light on.