What would you do if you had a year to craft the best version of yourself? Good leaders are intentional about the type of leader they want to be and what they want their leadership to accomplish. I want to share a framework that has helped me to reset and rebuild my leadership approach over the years. I believe we must always strive to be the best version of ourselves. But the first step is to build a leadership agenda.
1: Create a Mission Statement
Have you ever made a personal mission statement? The goal is to give you clarity and to help you know where to focus your energy. It’s an exercise in finding your true north. Just like your organization’s mission statement, it asks the question: What are you about? “To be a source of hope by offering humility, optimism, and support to everyone I meet” is an inspiring mission statement that resonates with me. I strongly recommend you check out this career guide from Indeed.com. It offers tips on how to create your own mission statement and career development plan.
2: Prioritize Your Mental Well-being
Since the start of COVID, conversations about mental health in the workplace have soared. The 21st U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has also created a Workplace Well-being framework that prioritizes “Work-Life Harmony.” What a great example of a movement taking hold, giving organizations a roadmap for success. As leaders, we must prioritize our mental well-being. The adage goes, you can’t pour into others from an empty cup. So, this year put your mental health first.
3: Nurture Your (Work) Relationships
What sort of manager or leader do you want to be? What do you want to be known for? Colleague Maps are a tool you can use to build stronger connections at work. Essentially, these questions promote transparency and authenticity as you learn the inner worlds of those around you.
- Perhaps you ask a team member: “How was your weekend?”
- Say to your co-worker: “I noticed you were not at the meeting last week. How are you?”
- Or ask your boss: “How did you get into this line of work?”
Colleague maps invite curiosity beyond superficial small talk or task-focused conversation resulting in more meaningful interactions.
4: Live Your Values
What do you value? Do your actions align with those values? Where might you be out of alignment? Are you moving in the direction of your north star? When we are out of alignment these questions help us examine our core values. Sometimes our values collide. Causing us to feel stuck or conflicted about what’s most important. When this happens, ask yourself: How can I honor my value of X while respecting my need for Z? For instance, you value your relationships with family and friends and need to set boundaries with your time. How will you balance these colliding values?
5: Remember Your Why
Sometimes we have yet to discover what our purpose is — our why. In his celebrated book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek introduces the Golden Circle theory. He contends that businesses should start with why they exist. Then develop products and services in alignment with that purpose. People are no different. We all are here to serve a purpose. How you show up in the world and what you do to make a difference is your product or service.
Discovering your why is arguably the most challenging step. I’m a firm believer in vision boards. To learn why, watch this TEDx talk about the power of vision boards. I challenge you to make one today and hang it up in a place where you can see it every day.
If you’re still unsure where to begin here’s a bonus tip: Make a journey line. It’ll help you gain clarity about where you’ve been before you chart a new course of action for the future.
Shakima “Kima” Tozay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker whose government career spans over 15 years, beginning in the U.S. Navy. Kima has dedicated her career to serving the military community in various roles across diverse settings and agencies. Her current position is as a Medical Social Worker serving Veterans. She is also a Social Work doctoral student at the University of Alabama. Kima is a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP®). She also holds certifications in Executive Leadership from Graduate School, USA, and a certificate from Stanford University in Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion for Organizational Excellence. Connect with Kima on LinkedIn.
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