Six New Year’s Resolutions For Leaders To Try In 2023

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A new year is typically a time of optimism, a time when we look forward to the future and reflect on what we can do better. As leaders look ahead to the next 12 months, what resolutions should they make?

1. Make 2023 the year you ‘do good’

“Senior leaders who cannot define their social purpose and truly contribute to tackling our world’s most urgent challenges will lose market share, and struggle to attract customers, employees and investors alike,” says Alexandre Mars, a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author of Mission Possible: How to Build a Business for Our Times. “Publishing a fluffy ESG paper at the end of the year, with a donation to a non-governmental organization, will no longer cut it.”

Mars believes there are robust ways to navigate the practicalities of what ESG (environmental, social and governance) really means, and it should be tackled at every level of the organization. “For instance, at my investment firm, our staff members give back 20% of their carried interest and 5% of their time to non-profits,” he says. “But we also apply the same level of scrutiny to the companies we invest in. Our term sheets include two non-negotiable clauses: an agreement to carry out an ongoing ESG evaluation every 12-18 months, and a commitment to interview at least one diverse profile for every open senior leadership position.”

Having a strong ESG roadmap won’t just look good on paper, argues Mars. “It will also allow you to outperform your competitors. It’s the smart thing to do.”

2. Make time for a ‘wellbeing audit’

Leaders are under pressure to support their colleagues as a result of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, which have created an environment of increased anxiety, stress and uncertainty. “Historically, businesses have jumped into solution mode and ended up throwing time and resources at wellbeing activities that show a desire to help, but often fail to have any real impact,” says Oliver Henry, a workplace wellbeing specialist and co-founder of wellbeing provider WorkLifeWell.com.

The transition into 2023 is a logical time for leaders to pause and reflect on better understanding the wellbeing landscape of their business. “By undertaking a wellbeing audit, with the aim to uncover colleagues’ wellbeing wants, needs, challenges and motivations, you will gather a thorough body of evidence to help make informed wellbeing decisions,” advises Henry. “Think about a sat nav. There is no point putting in the destination, without the starting point. You need to understand the wellbeing baseline and where people are now, and their specific challenges, to help map out the journey, reacting to bits of traffic and speed bumps along the way.”

3. Set and role model a healthy pace

For most leaders the last three years will probably have felt like one crisis after another. They have been under huge pressure to respond decisively to events, work at pace, and put in punishing hours to ensure that their organizations can weather the storms they face.

“The challenge with working in response to crisis after crisis is that it can, despite the pressure, feel rewarding,” saysBecky Hall, an accredited life coach, leadership consultant and author of The Art of Enough. “Leaders come together with a sense of pace, focus and urgency around a set of clear issues and teams become adrenalin fueled – united behind a shared purpose. Decisions become more centralized and quicker.”

There is a dark side to this way of working, however. That is the huge cost in terms of long hours and the heavy responsibility borne by a few people, who often have no time to rest and recover. “It’s the road to burnout,” explains Hall, “and here’s the rub – it can become addictive to work in this way.”

Hall recommends that in 2023 leaders consciously set a sustainable pace of work. “Think about what ‘enough’ looks like,” she says. “Set healthy boundaries and keep them and take moments to re-charge your batteries each day. What you role model has a huge impact, so choose a healthy pace that is good for the long term, for you and your teams.”

4. Make time to daydream

“The resolutions we set for ourselves are so often binary,” says Chris Griffiths, a keynote speaker, co-author of The Creative Thinking Handbook and founder of software developer and training provider OpenGenius.com. “I must do this, I must not do that. But what about time for doing nothing? For letting the mind wander?”

Of course, doing nothing doesn’t come naturally to most leaders. “Many leaders look aghast when I tell them they need to make time to daydream,” Griffiths admits. “They’ll say ‘I’m too busy.’ Yet those same leaders will claim to know the importance of creativity. Well, the truth is there is a wealth of scientific research showing that daydreaming is like rocket fuel for ideation. Like a stew that becomes rich with flavours when left to marinate, our creative thoughts become more intricate and powerful when left to brew in the subconscious.”

The trick is to add focus to the practice, according to Griffiths. “If you’re looking for ideas in a particular area, make sure you do your homework beforehand. You can think of this as inputting the data that your subconscious mind can then get to work on. The focused daydreaming state can then be induced by repetitive, rhythmic tasks like walking or running, gardening or even doodling.”

It’s important to note that mind wandering is an activity distinct from mindfulness, meditation or self-care (as great as all those things are). Griffiths concludes: “By making more time to daydream this year, you’ll also be making space for more creativity, innovation and success.”

5. Introduce some lateral thinking to your team meetings

Lateral thinking is defined as the solving of problems by an indirect and creative approach, typically through viewing the problem from a different and unusual standpoint. Why is it needed? “Because lateral thinking is the key that unlocks innovation,” argues Paul Sloane, an expert on lateral thinking and innovation and author of Lateral Thinking for Every Day. “And that’s not just improvements, but ground-breaking fresh ideas to pressing problems.”

Sloane says that leaders can encourage lateral thinking in teams by running regular brainstorms using provocative ‘what if …?’ questions. “I recommend that you bring in an external facilitator,” he says, “because the manager of the group typically inhibits, rather than promotes, radical thinking when leading brainstorms. You need a diverse group so include some lively thinkers from other departments.”

When running a brainstorm, it is important to start by stating the objective, for example, how can we recruit the best engineers? Or how can we double our brand awareness? Divergent thinking methods such as role play, mind mapping and opinion swaps can help to generate ideas. “Use clear and simple criteria to narrow down the ideas,” advises Sloane. “Discuss the short list, then choose and implement the most promising ones. A well-run brainstorm is energetic, uninhibited, motivational and productive. It will deliver valuable innovations.”

6. Make 2023 the year your resolutions actually stick

“Refocus thinking toward the small, everyday actions your people need to take in order to reach the bigger business goals,” says Jeremy Campbell, people and business transformation expert and CEO of consultancy Black Isle Group.“Once you are clear on your goal, progress toward it is about getting people to act small and act often.”

Overnight transformation doesn’t happen, argues Campbell. “Winners and losers have the same goals – the difference is in how you get there. New habits and behaviours are only formed by focusing on the process and not the goal.”

Campbell says it is essential to track and measure your success. “Aim for progress, not perfection,” he explains. “Stay accountable. Celebrate your wins, no matter how small. In 2023, the leaders who rethink the process of change around the principle of everyday actions will be the ones who succeed.”



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