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01 FEBRUARY 2014
Leadership resolutions: how can you make them stick in 2014?

by Edwina Melville-Gray: Global Leader: Productised Services Talent at Hay Group.

I’ll take a leap of faith and say that any of us who manage other people want to do the best job of it that we possibly can. And, as we enter a New Year, we see a rush of ‘how-to’ articles about how managers across the world can resolve to work harder at being a better leader. How to come up with those words of inspiration, clarify the way forward, and bring out the best in those that work for us. How to involve our team, support their initiative and innovation, break barriers, ease conflict and encourage teamwork.

The hard part isn’t coming up with these promises. Like all resolutions – to quit smoking, start that diet, exercise more – the difficult part is to make them stick. EQ guru and organisational theorist, Richard Boyatzis has five discoveries that capture the process of purposeful, ‘sticky’ learning beautifully. I’m going to call them realisations. Here’s what they tell us.

The first realisation – who do I want to be?

Our dreams and aspirations provide us with a potent, imaginable state to aim for - our ‘ideal self’. As leaders it provides our learning with energy and motivation, taking us beyond ‘what do I want to do?’ to ‘who do I want to become?’

The second realisation – who am I right now?

The reality of who we are is based, to some extent, on what we know and believe about ourselves. More importantly it honours the truth of how others perceive and experience our leadership. Feedback data from leadership assessment helps us build an accurate picture of our ‘actual self’. Simply asking people how we’re doing – what impact we’re having on them – can really help too.

The third realisation – what’s my agenda?

Working to a performance agenda is about trying to meet others’ expectations. They own the agenda. For our learning to stick, we need to own the agenda. So whether it’s coaching our team members or providing greater clarity, we have to really want to learn to do it better.

The fourth realisation – how can I experiment and practice?

This is the point where old habits are confronted and new habits are tentatively formed. Two steps forward and one step back. Too much pressure at this point – from ourselves or others – and we can forget our resolutions in the heat of the moment, or fail to hold on to them if they’re just not sticky enough.

The fifth realisation – who can I trust to help me?

A helping hand can make all the difference. In fact, trusting relationships lie at the heart of sticky learning. Sources of inspiration, purpose, support and honest feedback, our team members, peers, bosses and (if we’re lucky) coaches keep us on the right path.

Stick to your realisations

You can see why the usual New Year resolution lists are more attractive. It’s reassuring to be told what to do. It’s great to have something you can print and stick above your desk. You can look up and remind yourself what you should be doing…

But with a bit of reflection on what you really want to do, by seeking the realisations I’ve outlined, you won’t need reminding. The things you want to do differently will be part of you. You’ll be stuck with them.

Korn Ferry
Hay Group is a global management consulting firm that works with leaders to transform strategy into reality. Everything we do supports our mission to ‘help organisations work’ through developing talent, organising people and motivating them to perform at their best. We are proud to be the only consulting firm of this kind in the world. With 85 offices located in 48 countries, we work with over 9 000 clients in 125 countries across the world. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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