10 New Year’s Resolutions for the Servant Leader

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Striving to implement these 10 resolutions in his own life, leadership expert and author Mark Miller shares ways servant leaders can grow in 2014.

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What followers expect, and deserve, is the integrity that comes with attempting, on a daily basis, to align our words and our actions. People always watch the leader.

As the year winds down, many leaders are preoccupied with the question of how to be more effective in the new year. According to a study by the University of Scranton, nearly 45 percent of Americans report setting New Year’s resolutions. Leadership expert and author Mark Miller offers the following 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Servant Leaders in 2014:

10. Fight the gravitational pull of today. “My role, and yours, is to create the future,” says Miller. He suggests leaders invest enough time and mental energy to see it, marshal the resources to fund the journey and help chart the course to make it a reality. “Be careful… without focused effort, today always pushes out tomorrow,” he adds.

9. Focus on individual team members – not just the team. Since each member of the team is unique, leaders must remember that what motivates and inspires one is not always the same for the next.

8. Identify specific improvement targets. When leaders focus time, energy and resources on problems or opportunities, progress is made. Miller says this applies to life, the team and the organization. “Generalities don’t drive improvement – specifics do,” he advises.

7. Value people and results. The best leaders value results and relationships. Since most people have a natural bias towards one or the other, Miller suggests that leaders value both the people and their production to obtain desired results. “If you can get results without others, you’re not leading,” he says.

6. Walk the talk. “I’m not perfect, not by a long shot. However, the people we lead don’t really expect perfect,” Miller shares. “What followers expect, and deserve, is the integrity that comes with attempting, on a daily basis, to align our words and our actions. People always watch the leader,” he adds.

5. Learn something every day. “Leaders are learners – period. If you stop learning, your leadership journey is over.” While it may be a while before it actually ends, Miller likens it to cutting down a living tree. “The tree will still have leaves on the branches for a while, but the tree is already dead – even if it doesn’t know it yet,” he explains.

4. Fight pessimism in your life. Miller says pessimism is like cancer for a leader and says it will destroy a leader’s influence. As Napoleon said, “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Leaders must be able to see a preferred future and believe they can help create it. “People don’t rally to be part of a future created by pessimists.”

3. Own mistakes and share praise. Miller advises leaders to not blame others and says the best leaders don’t. Leaders have high levels of personal responsibility and need to be quick to give praise. His experience shows that this single resolution, if honored, will help earn the respect of those led.

2. Be more courageous – daily. He describes courage as the catalyst for leadership. “Without courage, it is impossible to lead well. Don’t wait for the big opportunity.” Miller says that courage, when absent on a daily basis, will ensure the big moment will never appear. He encourages leaders to continue to pursue the courageous path.

1. Think of others first. Miller describes this is the genesis of servant leadership. “If we slip into the quicksand of self, we will not lead for long. People want to follow a leader who has their best interest at heart. Servant leaders don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less often.”

Striving to implement these 10 resolutions in his own life, Miller invites leaders to share their New Year’s Resolutions with him on his blog. For more information on Mark Miller, his work, books or more helpful tips, visit GreatLeadersserve.org.

About Mark

Mark Miller is vice president for organizational effectiveness at Chick-fil-A, Inc. He began his Chick-fil-A career as an hourly team member in 1977 and joined the corporate staff in 1978. He previously served in leadership roles in Corporate Communications, Field Operations, Quality and Customer Satisfaction, and Training and Development. His most recent book, “The Heart of Leadership” was released last month. He is also the author of “The Secret of Teams” and coauthor with Ken Blanchard of “The Secret” and “Great Leaders Grow.” Mark’s three previous books now have more than half a million copies in print. His influence is multiplied by his live teaching events around the world and his influential and highly rated GreatLeadersserve.org leadership blog.

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