I’m in two minds about new year’s resolutions. On the one hand, the turn of the clock into the next year presents itself as an ideal opportunity to reflect on what has gone by, and simultaneously, to peer into the future with renewed optimism and energy. And rituals – if they’re healthy ones – are always a good idea. On that basis, a resolution that cements learning from the past and injects new (good) habits for the future is surely a good thing.
But hastily-made resolutions, or ones made without the appropriate detail to facilitate them becoming real, often fall by the wayside. And when that happens, it can leave us feeling more of a failure than if we had done nothing at all.
Never ones to shy away from a challenge, we are recommending some new year’s resolutions for leaders of change for 2017 that have not been hastily made (but are instead based on rigorous and deep research), and which contain (we hope) sufficient detail to make them realistic. And compelling. So here we go. No excuses.
Resolution #1: Listen more. To what? Everything. Each hour or each day, do a quick mental tally to compare the relative difference in time between your broadcasting and your listening in your professional role. (You might want to try this in your personal life too but that’s another blog for another day. But do try it – you’ll be amazed at the impact on your personal relationships). We’re not going to set an absolute target here because it will depend on your role and your style and preferences. But you might want to start with noting how far off you are from a 50/50 broadcast/listening ratio. And then set yourself a goal to increase your listening quotient towards 50/50. This may seem a stretch (or not) and if it is, just keep experimenting with how you can reach the 50/50. It may mean that you may need to be more succinct when you’re in broadcast mode to reach the target. And that’s not such a bad thing, right?
Resolutions that have the best chance of sticking have a quantitative target (done for the above) and a compelling reason why they’re worth persevering. The benefits of listening more are many, and include: you’ll learn more, people will feel validated (if you’re properly listening) and you’ll get many more issues solved that will stick. That sounds pretty compelling.
Resolution #2: Consult more. This is different to simply listening more because it sets up a contract and an expectation that you want to listen and that the other party – or parties – have a responsibility to share their thinking with you. This resolution has two targets: the first is to build in a test of your proposed change plans every time you or the team propose a change activity. The test needn’t be huge. But it needs its own line on the change planning spreadsheet so that the results of whatever you’ve asked and whoever you’ve asked in whichever way, can be incorporated into the overall plan of action.
The second target in this resolution is to seek out views from different places. You have your typical circle of confidants or advisors, I’m sure. The reason why they are your advisors is probably because you share the same values and philosophy. All well and good. But watch out because those advisors can quickly – and not intentionally – become merely a reflection of what you want to hear. So in addition to their counsel, talk with people who make you feel uncomfortable, talk with people whose messages can sometimes be difficult to hear. And make sure you speak with someone like that for every nine other voices you hear. Put aside your emotional response to their views and go behind their comment to see what different learning they are giving you. And then don’t be shy to incorporate those different views into your advisor group sessions. Stir it up a bit. The richer the dialogue, the more robust the solutions.
So there you have it. Two resolutions that have quantifiable targets and compelling reasons why they’re working pursuing. Good luck. We’ll be checking in on you during the year …