New Year in Review: 3 Actions Inspirational Leaders Should Take to Start the Year
At The Humphrey Group, we believe that inspired communication is the foundation of leadership. It’s about motivating people, inspiring action, and sparking connections. As we welcome a new year, it’s a great time for leaders to not only set intentions but also reflect on how they can inspire and engage their teams more effectively.
But effective leadership demands more than just goal setting; it requires a deliberate examination of the past, a commitment to ongoing learning, and a strategic approach to communication. Here are three key strategies leaders should embrace if they want to pave the way for success in the year ahead:
Reflect on the past year: understand the human element
The promise of a new year not only presents a prime opportunity to recalibrate strategies and set a new course for success, but it’s a great time for leaders to reflect on tangible data from the previous year. It’s as simple as reviewing what did and didn’t work, but make sure to do this from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective.
Leaders should analyze key performance indicators, financial metrics, and other measurable data to gain insights into the organization's performance over the past year. This hard data should be used to identify trends, measure the success of initiatives, and make informed decisions based on factual evidence. Typically, we see this as the step most leaders are already taking.
But just as important, though we often see this get overlooked, is a qualitative review. This begins by assessing the effectiveness of communication, team collaboration, and overall workplace culture. These insights can be gathered through surveys, feedback sessions, and candid discussions with team members. Understanding the human side fosters improvements in interpersonal relationships and shapes a positive workplace environment.
Develop professionally: foster a culture of learning and growth
Continuing the development of professional skills is a crucial aspect of leadership growth and adaptability. While this shouldn’t be a one-time occurrence, we recommend kicking off the new year on a proactive note for a great start.
Begin by determining specific areas for skill development. This includes identifying hard skills needed for better workplace performance, such as technical proficiencies or industry-specific expertise. But it should also include fostering a mindset of ongoing development, which we reinforce throughout our teaching as a critical foundation. What this looks like is honing leadership skills like communication, emotional intelligence, and adaptability.
Take the fresh start of a new year to deliberately shift the cultural mindset around professional development. Embrace a perpetual learning mindset, where continuous improvement is not just an individual goal but a shared commitment. By intentionally fostering a culture of learning and growth, leaders position their organizations as dynamic, forward-thinking entities.
Communicate strategically: an inside-out evaluation
In our approach to leadership, we consider effective communication the backbone of a well-functioning organization. Clear communication not only helps to prevent misunderstandings and reduce the likelihood of errors and conflicts, but it’s also crucial for strategic alignment. The new year, right before project cycles ramp up again, is a perfect time to review your overall communications strategies – both internal and external.
Start by evaluating how well information flows internally across the organization, and encouraging open feedback from team members to gain insights into their preferences and challenges. Think about whether existing internal communication tools facilitate smooth information exchange. If not, it may be time to consider new channels or technologies.
Additionally, and at least annually, we recommend leaders take time to ensure that their communications align with the organization's values. This is critical to fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose among the team.
Externally, leaders should assess the effectiveness of their communication strategies with clients, customers, partners, and other stakeholders. Review the clarity and consistency of messaging across external channels, such as social media, press releases, and marketing materials. Consider talking to or surveying external stakeholders to make sure the organization’s priorities for the upcoming year are aligned with theirs.
January’s impact: set the tone for the year ahead
At The Humphrey Group, we believe that bridging the gap between a leader's intent and an organization's reality requires a steadfast commitment to integrating reflection and improvement as an ongoing process.
Embracing the three practices mentioned above – reflection, professional development, and strategic communication – goes beyond creating a positive work environment solely for January; it positions your organization for sustained resilience and growth throughout the entire year.
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