Swap resolutions for expectations
By now, four days into the New Year, many may have already broken a resolution or two. Of course I haven't — because I didn't make any.
A cop-out? Maybe. I like to think it's more practical. After being on vacation for over a week, it seems kind of silly to say all of a sudden that I'm going to watch what I eat when for the last two weeks I've been consuming more calories than, well, than I should be. Will I change that all of a sudden on the first of the year?
Instead, the leadership lesson for today is to consider this time of the year as a time to make your expectations clear. Make your expectations clear for your teams but also include leadership expectations for yourself.
Leadership expectations are different than regular expectations. They should mean more to you; they are challenging, they are hard, and, at the end of the year, chances are you won't have fully met them. You should, however, have grown as a leader. At the end of the year we will spend time on reflecting. Now is the time to focus on expecting.
I have no magic combination for leadership expectations. I thought I'd share what mine will be for our team. Feel free to use, tweak, and of course discard what you'd like.
Let your slip show. I know, I know. No one wears a slip anymore. However, this leadership expectation is crucial. I expect leaders to show vulnerability. Be comfortable with not being perfect. This shows you are willing to be exposed and build trust with your teams.
Show your imperfections even if they are a little embarrassing. We are not all perfect. No matter how buttoned up you may be, it's OK to be raw sometimes.
They cut to the chase. “Try not to suck,” “Do simple better,” and my personal favorite: “Never let the pressure exceed the pleasure.”
Leadership lessons from the famous baseball leader remind us every day that while being a leader is hard, the principles behind it can be quite simple. “You have to be a little crazy in order to have everything you need to succeed.” I need to do a little more research to learn more about Joe's message here, but my takeaway is to step outside of conventional wisdom to find success.
Coach 'em up. I expect leaders to coach. We don't hear that word — coach — enough in our field. We hear discipline, accountability, standards, competency, but do we hear “coach” often enough? No.
As leaders, do we know the true strengths of our teams and what are we doing to develop those strengths? If we aren't doing anything, we are missing great opportunities. Our team members want to work with leaders who are interested in them, who take the time every day to develop them as leaders.
Have a bunch of fun. If we aren't having fun at work, why would anyone else? I expect leaders to smile. I expect leaders to laugh. I want leaders to have fun at work with their teams, with our residents and with the families we serve. This seems obvious, I know. But for a quick second, think about everyone you've encountered at work today? How many of them were having a great time? If the answer is not very many, the next question should be are you, as their leader, having a great time?
If you are having a horrible day, week, month, year, why wouldn't the people you work around every day feel the same way? This takes effort and discipline. Horrible things may happen, and now more than ever we are faced with regulatory environment that really isn't very fun. However, it's how you choose to tackle those moments that demonstrate your leadership, and your ability to stay positive.
Answer the call. I expect leaders to show up, to be present and to be committed to our mission and vision. I expect leaders to consistently practice our core values especially when things don't go the way they are supposed to. Leaders are dedicated and work hard without being told to do so. Leaders also take action. They get input, set direction and make decisions. I expect 2018 to be a year of action.
This all sounds easy enough, but if I were to quickly reflect, personally I could have done better in each area in the past. I expect 2018 will be a better year. Expectations are perfectly clear, for me and our team. We will let our slips show, embrace our inner Joe Maddon (even though I have a crazy Cardinal fan on my team), coach 'em up, have a bunch of fun and answer the call for 2018.
Happy New Year. Happy new beginnings. These are my expectations. Cheers!
Julie Thorson's “Living Leadership” blog was named the 2016 “Best New Department” Bronze Award winner by the American Society of Health Publication Editors. The president and CEO of Friendship Haven, a continuing care retirement community in Fort Dodge, IA, that earned the Governor's Award for Quality under her, Thorson is a coach's daughter at heart. She is a former part-time nursing home social worker who quickly ascended the leadership ranks. Now a licensed nursing home administrator, she has been a participant in LeadingAge's Leadership Academy and LeadingAge Iowa's Mentor of the Year.