Friday, December 28, 2012

Make your Leadership Resolution Succeed

Happy New Year!!! Did you make a New Year's resolution for your leadership? Did you know that after one month into 2013, 80% of New Year's resolutions will be abandoned. People will get caught up in battling the change within their new goal and will lose the resolve to succeed. If making promises to change ourselves has such a pitiful success rate, why even bother making them? 

Take weight loss, the most preferred resolution.  There is little doutbt on what it takes to succeed.  Eat less and exercise more.  If this recipe is so simple, why is it riddled with failure?  The answer is simple yet complex.  It requires a change within the psyche, but within the psyche, the person must scaffold his behavior with concrete thinking so that a return to previous behaviors is averted.

The same goes for leadership.  Leaders always want improvement for their organization, but many declarations for change fail.  Little by little, the work of the day erodes the hope for change until the leader completely forgets what he wanted to change in the first place.  If leaders hope to make their resolution stick, there has to be more to it than a wish.

A New Year's resolution needs 4 things to help it become permanent.

Why - The compelling reason that holds you accountable for reaching your goal.

Resolutions fail because the reason to make a change it is not very powerful.  Looking good is not a very compelling reason for a resolution to lose weight, primarily because the reason lacks depth and is superficial in nature.  A nobler reason to lose weight or become healthy is about saving and extending your life.  People will commit to making a change when it is a matter life or death long before before they will worry about the way they look.

If you want to be a better leader, then you must identify why change is imperative.  The most noble reason I can think of is because each school year, we affect 1/13 of a child's life.  Not their education, but their life.  What we do with each child's 1/13 is life or death for that child, and what we do or don't do this year for a child will affect the subsequent 1/13's of their life in the following years.  To make our resolution even more compelling, it is safe to say that what we do will affect their quality of life, their ability to have a stable or successful career, and ultimately the quality of their health. 

Is this a compelling reason to change?  Once you have a compelling reason to make change, you are ready to define the change that you want to make.

What - The Change to be Made

It takes very little effort to define the change that one would like to make.  It is little more than a declaration, but there is one caveat to this.  Once people announce the change that they plan to make, they stand a stronger likelihood of failure.  By simply making a declaration,  they have subconsciously convinced themselves that they have already achieved the goal.  If you plan to make a goal, you should have an accountability partner to help you reach the goal. 

In leadership, it is no different.  A change in your leadership requires you to be vulnerable.  You will have to be willing to take risks if you want success, and this is where communication can be your best ally.  Once you have identified your leadership resolution, communicate it to your staff and ask for their support and suggestions in reaching the goal.  You will be surprised how people will be willing to help you reach your new leadership resolution.

How - The detailed plan that will make the change happen.

Once the Why and the What of your resolution have been established, you are 25% there.  Now, you need a plan to help you reach your goal.  When I made a goal to lose weight, I purchased P90X.  It was a detailed plan of workouts and stringent diet plans to help me reach my goal.  It was a great plan, but without my commitment to action, my resolution was dead in the water.

To be a better leader, you must commit to studying, planning and acting on your new leadership change.  Select a book that is aligned with your change and study it closely.  Follow unique leaders on Twitter and converse with them.  Watch leadership videos on YouTube and TED.  Write a blog, and share it, or keep it private.  Whatever your plan is to study your change,  make a plan to implement what you have learned.  The best way to learn is to learn by doing.

When & Where - The time, frequency and place that you will work on making the change.

Resolutions, particularly weight loss, fail when the person fails to allocate time and a location to work on the goal.  If you want to lose weight, you must workout 3-4 times per week for an hour, and you must have a place to go.  In addition, you must commit to a regular frequency to workout.  Without this commitment to time, failure is imminent.

In your leadership change, find a time and place of quiet study each week.  Once you find the time, keep a regular schedule to study so you won't forget.  Set an alarm on your phone and don't allow anything to interfere.  Resolutions crumble because day to day interruptions lessen the frequency of your efforts to make change.

Here is the Reality. 

Whether or not we make a leadership resolution, kids and teachers will continue to show up.  They will continue to struggle or succeed, and they will need the most supportive learning environment to achieve.  What will their leaders do differently in 2013?  Einstein defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  If we want to make a change in the lives of kids, we must make a change within ourselves first. 

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