5 Questions to Answer Before Setting Your New Year's Resolutions

New year's resolutions are useful primarily because they represent your ability to do two things:

1. Think about living your life in a purposeful, goal-oriented way.

2. Believe you can change for the better.

These two skills are valuable beyond words. Make them a part of every month - not just January. Following are five useful questions to ask yourself before you work on your NYRs.

1. Am I coachable?

2. Do I really want to engage in the hard work of meaningful change?

3. Do I have a crystal clear understanding of what is most important to me, my work life and my family?

4. Have I thoroughly audited my time spent in the past year and categorized these actions into two groups - useful and non-useful?

5. Who do I need to begin, strengthen or dissolve a relationship with to improve the quality of my life, my work and the lives of those important to me?

The process of answering these questions will bless you with the invaluable insight necessary to set realistic, challenging, value-driven and focused new year's resolutions.

To be resolute in beliefs, goals and actions... that should be your job #1 in 2011. Good luck and may next year be your best one yet.

Rhett (Twitter - @yns1)

- Posted from my back porch office using my iPhone 4.

Location:Winding Lake Cir,Arcadia,United States


Skill Assessment: Your Leadership Fingerprint

Your influence as a leader is your leadership fingerprint. It defines who you are as a manager of people and projects. A recent meeting with a client organization highlighted a short list of behaviors you do not want defining your influence. While brainstorming a project idea with my client's work team, the division leader came in. We needed the leader's approval before we could move forward. What happened next was a disheartening display of ineffective leadership...

Behaviors to Avoid as a Leader:

1. He stared at his cell phone the entire time. He used it to check something at the start of the interaction, but then continued to handle it and focus on it. (You need your eyes and attention on the people, ideas and process in the room.)

2. He never asked probing questions to learn more about our ideas. He also never asked for the up sides of the project. He only repeated the down sides. (You need to exude optimism and a supportive, creative energy during brainstorming sessions. Especially when your team's ideas and enthusiasm are at stake.)

3. He immediately told us the idea wouldn't work and repeated that mantra the entire time. (You need to be realistic and practical, but add as many positive ideas to the discussion as you can. Then if things aren't panning out, massage the discussion to "meet in the middle" ideas.)

4. He never sat down to engage in a conversation. He stood, talked at us and then left. (You have an immediate barrier when you walk in - i.e. boss vs. team. This barrier creates negative outcomes (intimidation, average ideas, muted creativity, etc.) unless you break it down and level the emotional and hierarchy playing field. Have a seat and join in.)

5. He never gave an official answer. He relied on the "read through the lines" approach of decision making. (You ultimately need to make a decision. Sometimes on the spot. Make it with class and a spirit of "we did this together".)

Being the leader isn't easy. It's even more difficult when your influence strategies are broken. Examine your style and your methods. If they include any of these, make a change. Your team is silently begging you to.

Remember, it's not about you. It's not even about them. It's about the work. Make it great.