by Angela Roberts
Every year around this time, we all set both personal and professional goals for the year ahead. As we enter a whole new decade, it’s time to get our professional houses in order and set ourselves up for a great 2020.
While resolutions might be a bit out of vogue, taking the time to assess where you were in 2019 and where you want to go in the new year has value. It can help you narrow your focus and get clear about what you and your company are aiming for in the new year. It can also help you set clear milestones along your path to success and give you an idea of what the next step in your personal career may be.
From where I sit, these are six of the most essential leadership goals you should set to help you kick-start your best year yet.
Challenge the Power Norms
As business evolves and as the economy changes, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to challenge the way we see power and hierarchy in both the workplace and the home, as well as the world.
I’m not recommending that you go into your boss’s office or your child’s room and give them the what for, but I am suggesting that you commit to paying attention to the way that power dynamics impact you, your employees, your home life, and your business.
As I have mentioned before, it’s increasingly important to have diverse workforces to ensure success in the changing and uncertain economic environment. Diversity can only exist in a place that is open and welcoming, and leaders are instrumental in creating that kind of environment. Power dynamics play a significant role in this.
Leaders who rule with an iron fist are increasingly going the way of the dinosaurs, and their abusive behavior can and will crush creativity and diversity of thought. If you tend to be a leader who wields power through vociferous displays, you may want to reassess the dynamics you are creating and what impact these have on your business. You’d be surprised what a little soft skill work might do for you.
In fact, in today’s environment, soft leadership skills, particularly those generally attributed to females, are more valuable than the old standard skills of power. Skills like empathy, humility, and persuasiveness are going to get you further in the corporate space than any amount of scolding or yelling at employees. Those skills are also going to help foster an environment of inclusivity and support, which in turn can yield happier and more committed employees.
When you challenge the power norms in your business, you make space for new ideas and new leaders to emerge. The key to business success is to continuously innovate around your customer’s needs. In many cases, innovative ideas come from unexpected places in your company, and when you shake up the power dynamics, you make space for that to happen. Challenging the power norms in 2020 is one key to success.
Commit to Doing the Right Thing
Being successful in business has become about far more than just turning a profit. Today consumers expect companies to do social good at the same time that they provide great products. That can be a tough line for companies to walk, but it is up to leaders to create that kind of change from the top. The second most important goal for 2020 is committing to doing the right thing.
While having a narrow focus on the bottom line and shareholder value is an integral part of a leader’s responsibility, it’s also crucial to act as a role model and do good for humanity and the world at the same time. Doing the right thing and giving back to communities that you and your employees believe in, in turn, can bring more investment into your company. It can also give employees a sense of satisfaction to know that they work for a company that is doing its best to do no harm. That means that in one fell swoop, you can create loyal employees and boost your bottom line by simply committing to doing the right thing.
Set Clear Boundaries Between Work and Home
We’ve all seen the boundaries between work and home erode over the years thanks to productivity tools like smartphones and constantly connected computers and apps. That means that as time progresses, we have to get more ruthless about the lines between our home and our work lives. The only way to institute this kind of change is to lead by example.
No one wants to be disturbed with a work call, email, or message (unless it’s urgent) in the middle of a child’s soccer game or recital. Setting boundaries will help create a greater sense of balance between your home and work life and provide an example for your employees that shows that they too should value their home life as much as their work life.
Setting boundaries between home and work helps improve employee happiness and ultimately makes people more productive. When they are at the office, they have clear and designated time to work. When they are home, they have clear and designated time to spend with their families. There’s less multitasking and more commitment and focus on the task at hand when people can unplug and take time for themselves.
Setting clear boundaries is a change that has to come from the top of an organization. After all, a boss who sends emails and messages during off hours is just terrorizing their employees and enforcing the idea that they expect their employees to be always on, too. No one wants to work in an environment like that since it rapidly leads to burnout and attrition. Setting boundaries between work and home is a healthy way to help support employees and the long-term health of the business.
We talk a lot about diversity and inclusion in today’s office environment. Inclusion is necessary to cultivate diversity. Encouraging inclusion means allowing for a diversity of opinions in a safe, welcoming, and creative environment.
I’ve written extensively about how implementing inclusive practices into your office life helps support and cultivate diversity, but what makes it key in 2020 is the fact that it helps create happier employees who feel secure bringing their whole selves to the office every single day. Fostering inclusion isn’t only good for employee morale; it can also help boost creativity, productivity, and problem-solving. By encouraging inclusion today, you are ensuring the security of your future endeavors.
As I have written before, diversity is key to business success in today’s competitive business market. It’s so central that a recent McKinsey study shows that more gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to outperform others. Those that are ethnically diverse are 33% more likely to outperform others. The McKinsey study shows that companies who have a more diverse employee pool are statistically more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians, and that’s a big deal.
If you want to ensure that your company continues to grow in the face of economic indicators that seem to be softening, the best way forward is to focus on cultivating diversity in your workplace. A variety of voices, ideas, backgrounds, and thoughts can help you surmount your biggest business challenges and ensure that your business lasts well into the future.
Continue on the Path of Self-Improvement
One fundamental way to ensure success in 2020 is to continue to learn. Learning encourages humility, offers an opportunity for you and your organization to grow, and can open your mind to new paths forward for your business. It simply makes good personal and business sense.
Part of being a great leader means that you are continually striving to improve yourself. I believe so strongly in the idea of self-improvement that I recently wrote a post on 10 of my favorite books that inspire, empower, and motivate. Reading any of the books on that list is a fantastic way to kick-start your self-improvement for 2020 and learn excellent insights into both work and life in general. Don’t worry; it’s not your standard boring list of business books, either.
Head for the Roaring Twenties With Passion
As we enter the new decade “Roaring Twenties,” it’s time to commit to continuing to grow and learn in both our personal and professional lives. Use these six goals as jumping-off points for your own goals for 2020, and you are sure to set yourself up for ongoing success well into the next decade. Happy new year!