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The Surefire Way to Make This Your Best Year Ever

The Surefire Way to Make This Your Best Year Ever

    You read it right. I have a surefire way to make this your best year…ever.

    It does not have anything to do with how many more books you read or how much better your productivity becomes. Instead, it’s the addition of what I consider to be the missing element in many people’s personal or business success planning.

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    Too often, many folks try to educate themselves in the areas that they want to improve in. There’s nothing wrong with this, but where people often fall short is when they try to achieve their goals as solo efforts. For some reason, some think that the journey to success must be traveled on their own.

    The fact of the matter is that there is a much better approach to achieving success, which will guarantee a better year for you compared to all past years. In addition to education and acquiring knowledge, if you adopt the approach that you will no longer attempt to achieve all your goals in isolation, you will reach higher levels faster.

    Actively Being with Like Minded People

    The surefire way I’m referring to is to actively be with other like-minded people who are also interested and committed to achieving the same type of goals that you are. Some of these people may have more experience than you do in certain areas and therefore are in a position to help you.

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    They can share with you their experiences that made them successful so far and even point out any mistakes they have made or failures they had along the way. These can help prevent you from making the same type of mistakes — some of which can be costly.

    By having people share their direct and relevant experiences with you, your learning curve can be shortened which in turn will help you reach your own success faster. But having experienced people to talk about past successes is not the only benefit of being with like-minded individuals.

    Increased Motivation and Accountability

    Not all other like-minded people will necessarily have more experience than you. Some might even have less experience compared to you but that doesn’t make them useless to spend time with. Being with all types of like-minded people, whether they have more, less or the same level of experience compared to you, will have the ability to motivate and inspire you further in working towards your goals.

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    This is something that you definitely can’t get if you work on your goals alone. You miss out on the motivation that others can provide. This is something that I personally notice all the time in my own experience.

    For example, when I attend training sessions with other ski instructors, whether they are on the snow or indoor educational programs, I always feel more pumped up from the group motivation I feel with my colleagues. This helps me work towards being a better ski instructor myself.

    You also can get some accountability to ensure that you do the steps that you have to work on in order to progress. This is yet another huge benefit that you can get when you have other people to push you a bit. Quite often, you don’t have any accountability at all when you are solo and therefore can easily slack off on the things you must do to get better.

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    Look for the Right Groups of People

    In order to be with other like-minded people, look for the right groups of individuals in the form of special interest clubs in your area. You can also network with others at events like conferences, meetings and seminars. You can even form your own informal groups of like-minded people to meet on a regular basis to help each other.

    I will be using this very approach for an area that I am new to: real estate investing. I want to invest in real estate to help secure my own financial future but I’m a newbie in this area. So to help me, I will be checking out real estate investment clubs in my area as well as networking with other like-minded people I meet at seminars.

    I’m certain that this type of activity will help me make this year my best ever, and it will do the same for you just by adding like-minded people into your regular schedule.

    Feel free to share below how you would include other like-minded people into your life this year.

    (Photo credit: Shallow Depth of Field Shot via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on April 9, 2020

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

    The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

    With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

    5 Types of Leadership Styles

    I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

    The Democratic Style

    The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

    The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

      The Autocratic Style

      The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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      The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

      While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

        The Transformational Style

        Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

        Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

        Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

          The Transactional Style

          Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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          The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

          The Laissez-Faire Style

          The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

          In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

          Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

          You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

          Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

          The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

          Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

          I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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          In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

          What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

          Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

          1. Context Matters

          Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

          2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

          When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

          As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

          “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

          The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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          As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

          When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

          The Way Forward

          To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

          As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

          “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

          The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

          If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

          Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

          Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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