Every new year we're presented with the opportunity to reflect on our habits and the kinds of people we choose to be each day. For those of us in leadership roles, we're often left pondering the meaning of our leadership and how to bring it to the next level.
But what are the areas of leadership we should aim for? Too often, when we seek to improve and get to our next stage of development, we forget to return to the fundamentals. Sometimes the best way to improve is to simply reinforce some basic truths.
Here are four that you should keep in mind while leveling up in 2020.
1. Stick to your values
An essential way that leaders can get back to basics is by encouraging the best aspects of their team's values.
According to Hank Ostholthoff, CEO of Mabbly, "culture is a reflection of leadership. Simply, my job is to recognize and encourage talent and our values. Empathy, vulnerability, and autonomy are the keys to building an organization filled with a thriving, connected, and productive workforce."
2. Focus on relationships
According to Gallup, 70 percent of the variance in employee experience stems from the manager. This means that any number of things, including retention, engagement, productivity, and more, falls on the manager's shoulders. Although this may seem like a daunting set of responsibilities for managers, it offers a clear picture of what leaders need to do: build relationships.
Building relationships doesn't have to be difficult. Rashada Whitehead, head of culture, diversity, and inclusion at Grant Thornton, notes, "The simple practice of saying 'good morning' to team members, the ability to call someone by name, or connecting back to a moment or story that matters, demonstrates that people and relationships are a priority beyond a profit."
What this comes down to is fairly simple. It means taking an interest in those you lead at the human level and not treating them like just an employee whose sole purpose is to complete tasks for you.
3. Build a sense of community
Among the best things that a leader can do is build something that does not require constant care and attention. This is what building a sense of community provides.
To build a sense of community, you need to expand on the process of building positive one-on-one relationships with your team. Instead of focusing on your individual relationship with each of your team members, you find ways to help them build relationships among themselves and form new bonds.
4. Guide with purpose
Your purpose is what keeps all other aspects of leadership tied together and coherent. It shows that decisions aren't arbitrary, and that there's something these decisions are working toward.
Take time to reflect on what's guiding your leadership and put it at the center of the message you deliver to your team. Keep in mind, your purpose isn't your business objectives -- those are your goals. Rather, your purpose is what you're still striving for even when all your business objectives have been met.
Every leader wants to be better. The real differentiator is the leader's ability to follow through and sustain the best leadership habits. Those who are most likely to follow through are those who set clear goals with identifiable conditions for success. This year, don't fight a losing battle with yourself by attempting to achieve convoluted or vague goals. Instead, get back to basics and focus on the fundamentals of leadership.