5 Things Leaders Should Do Before January 1st

Many people spend months mentally building up their lists of New Year’s resolutions. The first of January brings an opportunity to start fresh and develop into the best leader possible. It seems easier to become a different person all at once, when we’re motivated by the possibilities, than to gradually implement change into our lives.

However, I’m challenging leaders (and myself) to do some much-needed refreshing before the first by getting these five things done before the end of 2013:

1.     Complete an internal audit of your company.

It’s awesome to make goals for the upcoming year, but if you don’t know exactly what’s going on in your company, it can be difficult to know where there’s room for improvement. We’re doing audits on different areas of our company — marketing, sales, client services, etc. — to look for ways to improve and then set goals that are in line with those needed improvements.

Last year, we did an audit on all of the content we produced and realized we weren’t utilizing all of the great content we had created. We made a change, and this year, we even wrote about how to get more value from your content. The most important part of the internal audit is actually making action steps for how you will improve next year.

2.     Upgrade yourself.

A mentor I really respect tells me that every year on her birthday, she does an upgrade of her life — she’s now up to “Susanne 3.4.” She thinks of it as a software upgrade and explained, “Even though there are tons of bugs in the system, and I would love to just get rid of all of them right away, you can only execute well — and actually form new habits — by attacking a select few per time period.” The key to upgrading is prioritization and focus.

Since my birthday’s already passed, I will be upgrading on January 1st. Join me by asking yourself how you can improve now — it will be sure to make 2014 even more impressive than 2013.

3.     Thank your team members.

A “thank you” goes a long way. Each year, I take the time to compose handwritten notes to each and every member of our team. Yes, my hand cramps about a third of the way through, but it’s worth the time and effort to say those little things you might not say at the water cooler.

Tell your team members why they make you love your job, how they make the company better, and why you’re lucky to call them co-workers and friends. If those things aren’t true, then the first thing you should do before New Year’s is let those employees go. You’re not helping the company or the employee by keeping someone who isn’t a long-term fit.

4.     Thank your clients.

This doesn’t mean you need to send an expensive gift with an impersonal, typed postcard. It means you should take the time to thank your clients for making your business a success. Send a handwritten note, make a phone call, or, better yet, thank them in person with a hug and some cookies. Repay their loyalty with some of your own.

5.     Thank your parents.

Okay, it doesn’t have to be your parents, but thank someone who has impacted your life this year. It could be a mentor, a spouse, a child, or the real estate agent who helped you land your dream house. Even if this last year wasn’t your best, there’s always someone who deserves recognition for helping you make it through. Tell her you appreciate her, and then make it a goal to return the favor in 2014.

I’d love to hear what things you’re getting done before January 1st. If I missed anything important, let me know in the comments. Happy Almost New Year!

P.S. Thank you, Mom and Dad.

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