As we pass from one year to the next, it is always exciting to close the book on another year of business and to look forward, with anticipation and excitement, on what is to come. The hope of setting new goals and laying out a plan to achieve them fuels the competitive spirit.
These plans do not simply come to fruition because the goals were set. They are a product of an organization’s values. Below are the top nine principles that I believe will set your business up for success in 2019.
- Thinking Forward – Organizations need to focus on identifying and solving problems by being creative and using innovative tools as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In addition, they need to consistently work at communicating their business goals to their team members, so that everyone understands how their role fits into the overall goals of the organization. Jim Collins in his groundbreaking book, Good to Great grasps this concept when he states, “greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”
- Driving Results – Businesses are flush with data that needs to be understood if they are to set and accomplish performance goals, achieve anticipated returns on investments, and deliver value to their clients and employees. If everyone focused on making each other better, they would greatly improve their ability to drive the results needed to succeed. In his book, First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham states, “in most cases, no matter what it is, if you measure it and reward it, people will try to excel at it.”
- Serving with Integrity – Business leaders have a responsibility to not only care about their business but to also concern themselves with their customers, their employees and their vendors. They should strive to be reliable, accountable, consistent and hard-working in order to demonstrate fairness, purpose and authenticity. Relationships are strongest when these characteristics are present. Simon Sinek in his book, Leaders Eat Last states that “You can easily judge the character of someone by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.”
- Fostering Teamwork – For an organization to be successful, they must concern themselves with those individuals working every day to drive success for the business. Organizational leaders must look for opportunities to be positive and encouraging while also offering constructive criticism when appropriate. Team members possess a great amount of knowledge about the business, and leaders should look for opportunities to give them permission to act on it and make the business stronger. Simon Sinek agrees when he states in his book, Find Your Why, “when you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you.”
- Living Passionately – From a business perspective, leaders must always drive toward success by remaining engaged and committed to the things they undertake. This means they must take an account of all their commitments and eliminate the ones that do not feed their passion, as those things will only detract from their ability to be successful. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking we learn that “whenever we have something that we are good at--something we care about--that experience and passion fundamentally change the nature of our first impressions.”
- Dedicating Yourself to Your Craft – Organizationally and individually, leaders must never stop learning, teaching and inspiring others regarding their craft. They must surround themselves with individuals who have a burning interest to seek out ways to improve their work. Creating an environment that fosters this dedication and passion should be a goal of every organization. In Rick Warren’s book, A Purpose Driven Life, he speaks to the fact that “experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”
- Honoring Those That Helped – Every organization is a living, breathing organism that endures change. Individuals will come and go, but organizational leaders can never lose sight of the important contributions these people made to get the business where it is today. I am thankful for every single employee CQL has had over the last 23 years.
- Asking Forgiveness – Every organization should strive to do their best on behalf of others. When they fall short of this goal or a promise, they must be fast to recognize their part in that failure and ask for forgiveness. In Patrick Lencioni’s book, Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the foundation of any successful relationship begins with trust. Recognizing when we should apologize and ask for forgiveness allows the trust to grow.
- Daring to Follow Your Heart – Each of us, individually, should seek to understand what drives us, and we need to be willing to take chances and dare to seek those things that seem hard. It is through the journey to achieve these opportunities that we truly grow as individuals. In his book, Originals, Adam Grant reminds us to “become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk.”
Mastering these nine concepts as you enter into a new year of planning will transform your business. While you may not be able to tackle them all at one time, choose a few and focus on them in 2019. The first six principles on this list encapsulate the Core Values of our business. It is our promise to our team members, our clients and everyone else we serve.
I’ve included quotes from some of my favorite business books. If you haven’t read them, perhaps that can be another goal for 2019.