The New Year, while always a time to look forward and plan ahead, provides a chance to look back and reflect. It's a time to think about your personal and leadership growth and thank the people who have supported you on your journey.
Even if that support was as simple as a piece of advice, taking a sage piece of wisdom to heart can launch your career further than you could ever imagine.
Before 2019 came to a close, four executives reached out to me to share the best advice they received during the past decade.
Here is what they said about the lessons they've learned and how they incorporate them into their daily routine.
1. Make the most out of everyone's time.
A huge responsibility for any executive is delegating tasks. Not only does it take great skill and organization to succeed in this task, but it also requires judgment and perspective.
Most executives don't start their careers on top, and have been on the receiving end of delegations in prior roles. Having that perspective of being on the receiving end is valuable when moving upward.
For that reason, one piece of advice held dearly by Tina Bacon-DeFrece, president and CEO of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, is to never ask anyone to do things you wouldn't do yourself.
"Adding value is the most important thing you can do when being part of a team, and therefore I make sure every responsibility I delegate adds value," she says, adding, "Otherwise, what's the point in assigning it?"
2. Remain transparent.
One thing you must never underestimate when fostering a positive company culture is the power of honesty and transparency, say Bonnie Micheli and Tracy Roemer, co-founders and co-CEOs of Shred415.
"The greatest piece of advice we were given is to remain authentic and transparent in every aspect of our brand: on the internal, business side and on the external, client-facing side," state the execs.
Being transparent allows their employees to understand why they make certain decisions, and it "promotes inclusion while showcasing our respect for the team and their livelihood," they shared.
This type of transparency translates to your public-facing brand, as the culture instilled internally impacts how your company is perceived and experienced by those you are trying to reach.
3. Follow the 80/20 rule for progress.
Urgent, smart progress toward superior results is often prioritized by leaders because many of them operate under the notion that sometimes you cannot wait for all the information or data unless you want to be paralyzed in indecision.
Jeff Melnick, president of Boston's Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar, practices this principle he attributes to Steve Carley, former CEO of Red Robin. According to Melnick, "Carley was a remarkable leader who led by following the 80/20 rule. If you have 80 percent of the information and you believe in it, you have enough to make a decision and move forward."
4. If it's not broken, break it.
"I believe the most impactful piece of advice that I've received was from AtWork's founder, John D Hall Jr.," says Jason Leverant, president and COO of AtWork Group. "At some point during one of our conversations, he was challenging me to make an adjustment where I didn't see it was necessary. I made the mistake of saying to him, 'If it's not broken, don't fix it,' to which he responded, 'Jason, you don't get it. If it's not broken, break it!'"
That advice has helped Leverant look at how AtWork operates as a franchise staffing organization. "I always look for ways to improve what we do. 'Just OK' isn't good enough for me, and this mindset helped take AtWork to another level of success," notes Leverant.
As we kick off 2020, take some time in your day to reflect on the pieces of advice your mentors and peers passed onto you. Identify which teachings you will hold close to your professional value structure, and use them to kick off the new decade on a positive note.