It may be hard to believe, but that doesn’t make the fact that the year is coming to an end any less true. With the rush of the holiday season it’s easy to let active leadership go into hibernation. However, instead of starting off the New Year groggy, take these 10 most important steps toward mesmerizing leadership. With a fresh perspective and some active participation, you can close this year strong and blast off into 2014 with some glimmering insight.

1. Fulfill promises

As a leader you do your best to motivate your employees and push them toward success. Promises like title promotions, salary increases and the potential for bonuses can push employees to keep going and keep trying. However, if as the year is winding down, you realize those commitments were never made good, then it’s time to reassess your promise practice. Sure, some employees may have missed the mark, but what about those who actively tried?

Make sure you keep good on the promises you made earlier this year. More importantly, show your employees the figures and measurements that lead you to your decision to reward or not. By proving that you are on top of the commitments you made and haven’t forgotten about them, employees will still strive to improve and reach those set goals.

2. Deal with dead ends

No doubt this year in business has been a busy one. And while you may have let certain non-pressing issues slide by, it’s important to tend to them before the New Year’s ball drops. Your first step to dealing with dead ends is to understand why you avoided the issue(s) in the first place.

Perhaps you hate confrontation, perhaps you felt like you didn’t have the time to deal with X issue back then: whatever your reason just be honest with yourself and make an effort to catch your avoidance patterns. No one wants last year’s issues lingering onto a fresh calendar. So have that tough conversation with your lackluster employee, cut ties with the vendor that provides more headaches than headway, and start the New Year off right.

3. Stay accountable

It’s likely that while this year was filled with successes, there were some bumps and missteps along the way. Strong leaders will take a moment to pause and reflect on the mistakes they made in 2013. Accountability is important, especially in a leadership position, and even if you didn’t deal with things correctly in real time, self-reflection can better prepare you for the inevitable issues of 2014.

Pro-actively plan how you’ll commit to staying accountable in the New Year. Be prepared to acknowledge your mistakes as they come, and more importantly, commit to moving forward in a way that puts lessons learned into action and a positive attitude on the horizon.

4. Be present

You may be slightly shocked that you’re reading a “before the year ends” post. In the blink of an eye it probably feels like this year has come and gone. Why? Because you’re so busy multitasking. Leaders often capitalize on their ability to juggle multiple projects, tasks and goals at once. But one thing you should stop juggling is people.

Make a commitment to better your behavior and be present before the year’s end. Stop texting, surfing and emailing when others are trying to interact with you. Whether they are partners, customers or employees, the people who depend on you as their leader are thirsty for your undivided attention.

Of course you’ve got to keep working and still have a lot on your plate, so set mental time limits on conversations and make a promise to follow up in a time-effective way (like emailing). But stay willing to pause in time and space. Not only will it help you focus, but it will make the people around you feel fulfilled because they will feel heard.

5. Communicate with care

Leaders communicate with others so often that it’s easy to forget the potential power of a carefully crafted message. You can have a basic thought or idea that needs to be received, but how you choose to deliver that message will determine the level at which it is absorbed.

For example, a sluggish comment lacking eye contact, proper tone and slouched posture is not going to resonate when compared to an empowered delivery wrapped around a motivated message. Consider taking a few extra minutes to share a story or anecdote that will relay the powerful emotions and ideas behind your intended message. Take some time to put some care back into your communication so you and your team can embrace 2014 as active and engaged participants.

6. Practice what you preach

You can preach proper practice all day long, but the employees that you lead are going to follow your actions more than anything else. If you want proper behaviors and attitudes at the kick start of the New Year, then start practicing what your preach.

Whether it’s coming into work on time, maintaining health and safety codes in the break room, or standard operating procedures, no employee handbook is going to speak louder than your own actions. Become empowered by employees’ close watch and act in a way that you want emulated.

7. Actively seek out talent

With the daily demanding routines and procedures of your job, you probably only seek out talent when necessary. After all, accepting applications and interviewing others is time consuming and costly. However, what about the talent you’ve already captured…are you capitalizing on it?

Take some time to reassess the current talents on your team. Make a commitment to pull out strengths and utilize each team member to their utmost ability. Before the year comes to an end, take some time to have a conversation with yourself, make a list or do some observing—anything you can do to open your eyes to the current strengths of your team. Do your best to recognize this talent, nurture it and put it to good use so that 2014 can start off with a talented bang!

8. Be fluid

With advancements in technology it’s now easier than ever to get work done in a variety of ways, at both different times and places. That being said, however you chose to work, assess before the year’s end whether your current method is both effective and efficient, and tweak as necessary.

In whatever changes you make to your working routine, see what work-life balance you can afford yourself. Maybe you can get home sooner by saving non-pressing emails for later that night. Maybe you’ll feel more healthy if you commit to stretching and lifting light dumbbells at the top of every hour. No need to wait for your New Year’s resolution to make these types of changes, commit to being more flexible and fluid now. That way when January is upon you, you’ll already be feeling more balanced and light.

9. Follow up

Remember those changes and tweaks you made at the start of this year? How are they doing? Before this year comes to a close, its important to follow up on any shifts or major moves you’ve made in the last 365 days.

A leader who follows up displays active participation pertaining to the effectiveness of the overall workplace. Employees appreciate someone who not only “makes moves,” but is determined to make sure that those changes are still working for the ever-evolving workplace.

10. Reflect

In the blink of an eye 2014 will be upon us all. Don’t let the end of the year slip away before carving out some time to reflect. Reflect on the year past: what were the biggest accomplishments, pitfalls and moments of perseverance? What was the biggest lesson learned and what will continue to stay at the forefront of your focus in 2014?

More important, what goals do you have for the upcoming year? What changes are you committed to seeing take place? January 1st is the time to declare your resolutions, not to come up with them. Determine now how you plan to carry out your leadership skills in 2014 as effectively as possible, so that when a fresh calendar is upon us you dive into your active achievements on day one.

What leadership moves will you make before 2014? Let us know in the comments below.

There are many definitions of leadership, many quotes from highly revered people that sum up the essence of leadership. 9 Habits of Highly Productive Leaders

Featured photo credit: Young man holding a light at his hands against polluted and ruined landscapevia Shutterstock

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