New Year’s Development Goals for Leaders 2016 Edition (Added Bonus: How to Keep Them!)

This post was recently published in SmartBlog on Leadership:
For many of us,
making and breaking promises to ourselves for the New Year has become an annual
tradition. We say we’re going to lose that 10 pounds, quit smoking, change
jobs, read more, be more positive, be more productive, etc… and start off all
Tigger-like with energy and great intentions. Then, when the going gets tough
we lose interest, motivation, and momentum and at the end of the year we’re
back to where we started.

For next year,
let’s break that cycle! Let’s set our yearly leadership development goals and put some best practices in place to
help us achieve those goals.

We’ll start
with 10 goals. Don’t get too ambitious, just pick 1-2, or maybe these will
inspire you to come up with something better of your own. Then, make sure you
include the three “goal boosters” at the end.

1. Pick one
thing you like to do or are good at – but probably should not be doing at your
level – and delegate it. That’s right, let it go! Just be sure to provide
appropriate support and coaching to your delegee (new made-up word).

2. Practice
in-the-moment, don’t get distracted by shiny objects, focused active listening.
It’s called “leadership presence”, and it’s the single most important thing you
can do as a leader.

3. Let someone
on your team know where they really
stand. Good or bad, doesn’t matter, just commit to some honest, caring,
constructive developmental straight-talk.

4. Pick one
thing that’s not broke and make it better. Look for an innovative breakthrough
solution, not just incremental improvement.

5. Look for at
least one thing someone is doing well and tell them about it. While each day
would be a nice stretch goal, weekly may be more realistic.

6. Gain clarity
on your leadership values and share those values with your team.

7. Get feedback
on your leadership skills. Take a formal 360 degree assessment or use some
other method to get more informal feedback. Then do something about the

8. Take a leadership course. Whatever program you chose to attend, just make sure it’s
grounded in solid theory (no flavor of the month fads), builds self-awareness,
and includes lots of practical on-the-job application.

9. Read at
least 4 leadership books. That’s one a quarter. Believe me, it’s harder than it
sounds. Keep an action log of new ideas that you are going to try out.

10. Find a new
mentor or coach and/or mentor or coach someone new. Get a little, give a


3 Proven Ways to Help you Achieve your
Leadership Goals

1. Write them
down. Be SMART about it – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and

2. Tell others
about them. Make “public declarations”.

3. Find an “accountability
partner”. Someone to check in with you once a month to review progress on your
goals (or each other’s goals).