Being a leader is a lot of work. It requires commitment, balance, and patience. But as a leader, you are given the responsibility to guide your group in the best way you can. While you may have a unique set of management skills that differentiate you from others, it’s important for every leader to possess strong leadership skills if they truly want to succeed.
But you’re busy. You have a lot to concern yourself with on a daily basis: the bottom line, employee engagement, and of course, customer satisfaction. Amid all that busy day-to-day activity, one critical area might be falling by the wayside: your continuous training and development. Focusing on your leadership improvement and development sounds fantastic in theory. But we also know that real life gets in the way. Conflicting priorities, looming deadlines, and a never-ending cycle of meetings choke your calendar while the gap between knowing what you should do and actually doing it only gets wider.
In 2019, what if you did it differently? Instead of coming up with big and lofty time-consuming goals, what if you carved out just a little bit of time each day, each week to focus on developing yourself as a leader – what would the impact be?
The impact can be huge. Take a few of our clients as an example. They made this same commitment at the beginning of 2018 through Mike Abrashoff’s It’s Your Ship FUEL program – to carve out a little bit of time each week to focus on their development – and the results were amazing. They embraced the idea of becoming a lifelong learner and improving just 1% every day. The feedback at the end of 2018 was an echo chamber across a wide range of industries, businesses, and teams…their leaders are more engaged, productivity is at an all-time high, and there is a shared sense of unity, purpose and accountability for results in the workplace.
We know you can’t predict what will happen in 2019, but we can predict one thing that won’t change, and uncertainty will continue to be a major theme. It’s also safe to assume that your ability to lead will be critical for success. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help set you up for success in 2019. Here are five tips to get you started:
1. Get Specific
A common mistake people make is setting big, nebulous goals like, “I’ll be healthier.” Instead, make your resolution specific, with a tangible, achievable outcome. Rather than saying, “I want to be a better leader,” determine one or two specific behaviors you want to improve. Why is this focus important and what will you do once you hit your goal?
Then, visualize what good will come when your goals and desires are met. What does it feel like? What does it look like? It also helps to have something simple, tangible, and positive to repeat to yourself over and over again. “I will be more comfortable handling situations where I am not comfortable, by focusing on learning more about different styles,” or “We will be the best damn ship in the Navy!” is not only positive reinforcement, but it’s a quantifiable goal that you can check in on and make your reality.
2. Write it Down
Write down your goals and outline the small, manageable steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve them. If you set a big goal—say, learning how to build trust—without a step-by-step plan, it can be overwhelming and trigger frustration or negative thoughts that get in the way of your success. By breaking it down, and then planning and accomplishing one small thing at a time, you’ll stay on track, focused, and positive.
3. Make Time
Be sure to set aside ample time for yourself to achieve your goals. If you really want to run in a 5k, you would most likely set aside three or four regular blocks during the week, build a plan to increase your distance and track your progress. If you want to improve any skill, you must make it a priority and set aside time each week to focus on building that new ability. This is why I spent time every day walking my ship. I knew the best way to build trust and engage my crew was to spend time really listening and engaging with them. It was hard at first, but once I realized that this was time well spent it became a no brainer!
4. Use Micro Habits
I found during my time on USS Benfold that if I broke my goals down to smaller, more bite-sized pieces, I was able to not only make an impact faster, but I was also able to have a feeling of accomplishment that kept pushing me even more. I came up with a mantra of improving myself just 1% each day. To this day, I try to learn something new that makes at least one improvement every single day. It sounds daunting, but improvements don’t have to be huge, they can be really small, which incrementally leads to huge change. I promise the effect will be dramatic.
5. Get a Partner
Accountability is one of the best ways to stick to a goal. A professional commitment shared with a community can be a powerful engine for action. Choose a trusted person in your personal or professional network who will check in with you periodically to see how you are progressing, offer encouragement, and help you brainstorm ways around obstacles.
I know when I have someone else to “share your struggles and successes,” it makes the journey easier and less intimidating. Most importantly, it keeps me inspired and motivated. I know that I am most dedicated to working out when I have a workout buddy. We push each other whenever one of us is slacking. The same process can work for developing yourself as a leader!
Take Command of Your Ship with FUEL
Make the commitment to improve continuously this year with the It’s Your Ship FUEL program. Powered by micro-assignments, take the exact tools and tactics Mike used on Benfold back to your leaders and teams. Click here to learn more about FUEL.