Three Resolutions for Better Performance in 2011

Since New Year’s is a time for reflection and goal setting –– two of my favorite things to do—I thought I’d share my plans to improve as a leader in 2011. Few people make resolutions that become real habits. Most diets and exercise plans won’t last through 2011, but can we create lasting leadership habits? Here are my top three resolutions for 2011.

Start earlier. Like Superman’s fortress of solitude, the quiet of one’s office, before peers, managers, and reports arrive, provides an opportunity to focus and prepare. Some of my best days at work began in the solitude of early morning.

There is no starting gun for managers. What’s stopping me from showing up half an hour early for work? A runner who starts the race before the others will win more races, right?

This year I resolve to begin my day earlier than usual at least a couple of days a week. If it means hitting the sack earlier, well, so be it.

Learn. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics says in 2009 Americans spent an average of 2.8 hours a day watching television, but less than 15 minutes a day reading. Management guru Peter Drucker says that managers are knowledge workers. In other words, managers use their brains to get things done, not their hands. And since no resolution set is complete without an exercise plan, here is my workout routine for a healthier brain.

For current events, there is no better source than the Wall Street Journal. I recommend it. Start by cherry picking the articles with the most interesting headlines. Also, there are RSS feeds that combine multiple news sources into one convenient place. Try the Pulse app for your mobile device. Daily upkeep is my goal here.

For books I prefer non-fiction, but I believe good fiction is just as useful for growing one’s general knowledge and vocabulary. E-readers are great for books and contrary to what most people think the experience can be better and more convenient than reading an actual book. I’m shooting for ten books this year.

Of course, there are other ways to acquire more knowledge this year. Like, maybe spending more time reading your favorite management blogs…

Execute. Great performers separate themselves through execution. You are accountable for your results at the end of the year, but during the year, it is your responsibility to execute.

I once heard a bishop give a great definition for responsibility. He said that the word is made of two parts, response and ability. Together, he said, responsibility means, “the ability to respond to those to whom responding is due.”

So how can we execute and get better results in 2011? If communication is the cornerstone to execution, we all need to reevaluate the ways in which we share information with our teams. The simple act of measuring values and sharing the results is something we can all do with our staff. I’m also going to try get more people involved by inviting front line associates to manager meetings.

Lastly, since they say that repetition is the mother of all learning, its important that the frequency of my communication improves this year. Maybe there are some communication opportunities you missed in 2010. I know I did. I can address the team at small training meetings this year, something I missed in 2010.

They say it only takes three weeks to form a new habit. Over the next three, I’m going to show up early, read more, and execute. What will you be working on? Here’s to a successful 2011. Happy New Year!