As one of the leaders who chose Sally Percy´s 10 TOP Resolutions for Leaders in 2020 I decided to build on them and create these 12 SMART Resolutions for New Leaders in 2021. I interconnect them with the message I recently put together in my little book on “The 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a SMART Person”. Necessary English proof-reading contributions have been made by Vicki Plant. These principles can serve as a rope to guide you when you face a daunting abyss and will help to smooth your way in life. It is worth following your heart. It is worth fighting for yourself and your dreams. It is worth being yourself and being aware of your circle of influence in this world.
I would also like to dedicate them to my leader in ELT, one of my greatest friends, soul-mate and a real legend in the ELT world, Jim Wright, a former Principal of Pilgrims teacher training, who wrote in his very final FB post: “Remember folks, things that happen to you might leave you scared but they don´t have to define who you are!“ One of the best pieces of advice he ever gave me in his life was during an interview for my book I CHOOSE because it´s my life: “We all have the ability and the right to choose how we feel! We often forget that, and we often think that things that happen to us are not our choice, therefore we lose control. But we can CHOOSE the way we feel about them. Here is an example – when I was diagnosed with kidney disease – of course I wouldn’t have chosen for this to happen – therefore it is easy to say I have no choice and I have no control; however, I CAN choose to feel great and get on with my life despite what is happening physically. I choose how I feel, not my illness! Therefore, I am completely in control of how I FEEL about my life; I always say if YOU don’t CHOOSE how you want to live then something less kind to you will choose you!”
Thank you, Jim! Let us live and feel what, and how we choose to, in 2021!
- Visualize your goal
Choose and write down what´s essential for you from a long-term perspective. Your “Golden Fish” is the big step, the one that you have been thinking about for a long time and which you still want to do. THE ESSENTIALS MUST COME FIRST,” says Juraj Malik in his Golden Fish Managerial Diary.
I chose to buy this Diary last year and followed Sally Percy´s 10 TOP Resolutions for Leaders in 2020 in which she suggests creating a vision for your life and thinking about what goals you would like to achieve? “Clear focus is the first step to achieving them. If you imagine clearly what you want to achieve, picture it, and experience the feelings of pleasure and reward associated with that achievement for yourself and others, you are more likely to achieve it,” says Patricia Peyton, author of wellbeing book Physical Intelligence and director of training provider Companies in Motion”.
When you choose to implement the 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a SMART person in your life in 2021, make sure you identify your personal values, pillars and anchors that will help you sustain any obstacle on the way.
Life is born in our visions and our energy, perseverance, enthusiasm, and courage help to make our dreams become true. Now is the time to move forward. Imagine that anything and everything is possible.
- What does your life look like in this vision?
- What are you devoting your time to in this vision?
- Who are you working for in this vision?
- Who benefits from your work in this vision?
- What legacy do you want to leave behind?
- Can you draw this vision?
- How do you feel when imagining this?
- What other questions come to your mind now? Write them down with answers.
Juraj Malik also suggests that we order the most fundamental priorities from 1 to 12. “Think about the activities, actions and results, which you will be MOST interested in. Be specific – determine their order of importance.”
This vision enriched by the priorities for 2021 can lead you through your life and every decision you make on the journey will then be made in accordance with it. This sets up the context for the implementation of the 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a SMART Person.
- Have the power to make the impossible happen
When there is something in your way, don´t be afraid to overcome it. Let yourself be visible when you feel it´s right. Be COURAGEOUS (Learn & Lead Principle 1).
“The power that brought you to your current position of prominence and responsibility as a leader – the power that is the source of your success in the past – is now preventing you from making the impossible happen in your life and in your work. The pathway to this new power is to completely and intentionally “re-invent” yourself: to put at risk the success you´ve become for the power of making the impossible happen,” says Tracy Goss, author of The Last Word on Power.
When I read this back in 2012, I could not fully understand Tracy Goss´s message. Some years later, now that we have reached the “Learn & Lead Discovery Island”, I can easily agree and confirm that the only way to move forward for successful leaders is to simply re-invent yourself and upgrade your existence in this world.
It is also important to understand Winston Churchill´s message: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
How could you become a facilitator of the process for which you are accountable? How could you lead your team to take up their responsibilities and enjoy every step along the way? How could you support and encourage every individual in your team to start applying the 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a Smart Person after you have all identified the desired vision that brings joy and pleasure to everyone?
- Let every person matter
Don´t hesitate. Enable yourself to take action as soon as possible. Be PROACTIVE (Learn & Lead Principle 2).
Begin with and treat yourself with dignity and respect. May all your days be full of compassion, drive and care for the people around you – your family members, your friends, your colleagues – whatever position they are in and any other person you are in contact with during day. “Be the change you want to see in the world”, as Mahatma Gandhi suggests. Do not waste a minute of your life because no one told you what to do. Do whatever makes sense to you and see what happens.
Juraj Malik, a successful businessman and author of Your Hand – A Handbook for Success gives us some advice on how to be more human and to focus more on the people at work: “When I have a meeting with someone, I sit comfortably, calm my mind and concentrate on that person. The goal is to better understand, to feel that person, to empathize. Even to ask additional questions and to encourage the person. To bring them to a moment of agreement, which might be concluded with praise. It is also a great adventure to discover a person’s magic (they have some).”
But how to apply this even further? Treat every person individually, make sure you take time to learn more about their desires, needs and talents. Become a caring leader who understands the real value of people. Take time and give support, encourage them during their times of personal struggle and difficulties. Be the one whom they can trust and wish to follow as they recognize your genuine interest in them as a person who can feel, think, learn, and wants to leave a legacy.
- Improve the work experience
Your initiative could awake the interest of other like-minded people. Allow others to be part of your journey. Be a TEAM PLAYER (Learn & Lead Principle 3).
As mentioned in Sally Percy´s 10 TOP Resolutions for Leaders in 2020: “Every leader should resolve to dramatically improve the modern work experience so employees can do their best, while loving every second,” says Chris Dyer, a performance expert, speaker, and author of The Power of Company Culture.
Based on this I firmly believe that the person-centred approach, one key pillar in Learn & Lead Innovation, is going to lead us all towards new business ventures and the happiness of all our stakeholders. Make sure you focus on “creating system intelligence in your company that enables you to draw leadership out of anybody,” says Adrian Underhill, a keynote speaker, series editor of the Macmillan Books for Teachers, author of Sound Foundations: Learning and Teaching Pronunciation and an advisor in the development of the new Macmillan English Dictionary.
- Re-connect with yourself
Do listen to your heart in the labyrinth of possible solutions. Remember, trust your intuition Be INTUITIVE (Learn & Lead Principle 4).
“The one who looks outside, dreams. The one who looks inside, awakens” says Carl Jung. It´s high time for us to reconnect with the inner world that is inside of us before we reconnect with others. Listening to the inner voice at times of making critical resolutions is inevitable.
Intuition is defined as the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. The 21st century invites us all to open up to this innate ability of any human and to succeed in things we have not yet done before. Once you have taken the courage and proceeded on this new life path, you may instigate a small team of like-minded people who will join you. When you listen to your mind and follow your heart (intuition), you will experience new realities in 2021.
- Place your trust in others
Probably not everything will go as you would like from the beginning. No difficulties are insurmountable, slow down and listen. Be OPEN-MINDED (Learn & Lead Principle 5).
“In the era of fake news, deepfakes, data breaches and unfair use of personal data, trust and transparency are gaining importance and value…brands must prove they can be trusted with our behavioural, contextual and emotional data if they are going to survive,” says Professor Steven Van Belleghem, an expert in customer focus in the digital world and author of Customer The Day After Tomorrow in Sally Percy´s 10 TOP Resolutions for Leaders in 2020.
If we apply this in educational settings, we need to learn to trust our team and let them unleash the potential in our children. The environment in schools must change to inspire both the staff and their children to explore the world around them. “Today we educate learners for tomorrow in schools from yesterday,“ says Professor Gabriela Lojova from Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia and also author of Let´s teach languages more effectively: A Learner-centred Approach. She urges teachers to become facilitators to allow a teaching-learning process to happen in the classroom and to personalize it, no matter what the subject is. They need to show real interest in their students´/pupils´ needs and address them with respect and love.
“How can you allow your team to grow and become more competent in a self-learning organization? How can a manager become a teacher and inspire others to learn from one another? Trust is crucial for a manager when transforming their working environment,” suggests Valerie Demange, HR manager in PSA Groupe Slovakia.
- Take ownership of your time and use it wisely
When tempted to give up before the target destination, just recall the reason why you started. Let yourself create solutions when others give up. Be PERSISTENT (Learn & Lead Principle 6).
“I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me,” proposes Virginia Satir, an American psychologist in her poem Self-Esteem.
First, make sure you can identify the tools you have for managing your life, which nourish your persistence and help you get closer to your state of being that makes you feel valued. Do value the time you have and choose the activities wisely.
What is it that helps you carry out the challenging tasks daily? What would happen if you simply let go of all the failures that hold you back and prevent you moving forward? What feelings do these thoughts bring to your body? How could you help yourself to activate the creative potential inside of you?
Curiosity and creativity are the workplace superpowers of the 21st century. To develop them, you need to learn how to protect your precious time. “In this age of digital transformation, it is easy to think that technology is the key to effectiveness but become aware of what saves you time and what wastes it. Develop an instinct for digital mindfulness, start to notice and understand your online time and to take charge of your digital wellbeing. Building a positive digital identity is an essential aspect in the search to use time wisely and productively in 2021,” Vicki Plant, Online Language Teacher, Coach and Leader.
8. Drive your emotions in the right direction
“No matter what leaders set out to do – whether it´s creating strategy or mobilizing teams to action – their success depends on how they do it. Even if they get everything else just right, if leaders fail in this primal tasks of driving emotions in the right direction, nothing will work as well as it could or should,” says Daniel Goleman, a keynote speaker and author of The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership.
Emotions drive our actions, and it is high time for us to learn to understand what they communicate to us. They are an inevitable part of the transformation process which we all are a part of nowadays.
To transform the world, we must transform ourselves. We will need to engage in what James Tamm calls “radical collaboration” – moving away from competition and challenging ourselves to integrate systems to leverage our collective resources (James Tamm, Radical Collaboration. Harper Collins, 2005).
The potential of the 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a SMART Person lies in the fact that it can help leaders to team up with their peers and lead them all through the process of creating a better and more valuable reality.
9. Learn more about the way you and others learn
Your journey might be full of surprises thanks to which you learn more about yourself, others, and the world. Ensure you allow time for learning. Be PATIENT (Learn & Lead Principle 7).
Howard Gardner´s Theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests that we are all intelligent, we just need to find out how intelligent/smart we are. To develop a caring leader within yourself you should look at the interpersonal intelligence that Gardner describes as “highly developed forms of this intelligence are to be found in religious and political leaders, such as Mahatma Gandhi, in skilled parents and teachers, and in individuals enrolled in the helping professions, be they therapists, counsellors, or shamans. Central to this intelligence is the ability to listen to what the other person seems to be saying (rather than to your distortion of it), to be able to develop good rapport with that person, and to be adept at negotiation and persuasion.”
Why not consider some teacher-training courses where teachers are developed in 21st century skills? How could you benefit from experiencing a training course with the people who shape our next generation? How could we learn and develop together for the needs of today´s society?
10. Appreciate every single morning
Your life is a gift and your presence in this world has got a purpose. Appreciate every single morning, simply be and create. Be THANKFUL (Learn & Lead Principle 8).
Clarity of your vision is vital for its success. Every day you have an opportunity to get closer to your mental picture which drives you forward. “Clarity is the source of authentic leadership and high performance. It allows us to be present in the moment and have an enjoyable experience of life. A sense of purpose, direction and entrepreneurial spirit are natural for people with a clear head. So are happiness, freedom, security, love, confidence, and peace of mind,” says Jamie Smart, author of The Little Book of Clarity.
Jamie Smart explains: “Clarity equals capacity minus contamination”. Find time to explore what this contamination means. “Just as factory workers need to keep their machines clean and well oiled, knowledge workers, coaches, creatives, managers and leaders need to take similar care of their minds.”
Practising the Learn & Lead Principle 8 every day can make you feel more relaxed and thankful. A quality that a caring leader lives with every day.
11. Reframe power in your organisation
You have the right to love, experience joy and live according to your own vision. Do remember, it´s YOUR LIFE. Believe in yourself and act! (Learn & Lead Principle 9)
As stated by Sally Percy in her 10 TOP Resolutions for Leaders in 2020 : “Many organisations are moving towards a flat structure, where there is no place for the command-and-control leadership style often reinforced through hierarchy,” according to Antoinette Dale Henderson, a leadership expert and the author of Power Up: The smart woman´s guide to unleashing her potential.”
It´s WE rather than ME or YOU. It has never been about YOU only. The higher in the hierarchy, the more power and influence the person has, the more courageous and assertive they should be in 2021 to make a real move forward towards a new culture in their company – a culture where people are at the centre. “Take care of your people and your people will take care of your results”.
12. Use your power responsibly
Why should leaders in 2021 consider applying The 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a SMART Person into their companies and schools? Simply because EVERY PERSON MATTERS. The power you have in your hands needs to be used wisely and carefully so that when you go to bed every evening, you will have a good feeling about yourself. If not, there is always the next day where you will have another chance to become the leader you would love to have for your children.
More than ever, at times when we all are facing one of the biggest crises of our times – the Coronavirus crisis, humanity itself, needs to be emphasised.
Dr José R. Hernandez a corporate crisis expert and author of Broken Business: Seven Steps to Reform Good Companies Gone Bad predicted in Sally Percy´s 10 TOP Resolutions for Leaders in 2020. “Leaders need to use the power and privilege afforded to them to solve the problems of people and planet profitably.” This message is vital also for 2021 – a year in which we more than ever need to upgrade ourselves and become more human, more respectful, and more responsible to each other.
So, are you ready to learn about, test and implement the message conveyed in the 9 Learn & Lead Principles of a Smart Person? If yes, then let me summarise them for you:
When there is something in your way, don´t be afraid to overcome it. Let yourself be visible when you feel it´s right. BE COURAGEOUS. Don’t hesitate. Enable yourself to take action as soon as possible. BE PROACTIVE. Your initiative could awake the interest of other like-minded people. Allow others to be part of your journey. BE A TEAM PLAYER. Do listen to your heart in the labyrinth of possible solutions. Remember, trust your intuition. BE INTUITIVE. Probably not everything will go as you would like from the beginning. No difficulties are insurmountable, slow down and listen. BE OPEN-MINDED. When tempted to give up before the target destination, just recall the reason why you started. Let yourself create solutions when others give up. BE PERSISTENT. Your journey might be full of surprises thanks to which you learn more about yourself, others, and the world. Ensure you allow time for learning. BE PATIENT. Your life is a gift and your presence in this world has got a purpose. Appreciate every morning, simply be and create. BE THANKFUL. You have the right to love, experience joy and live according to your vision. Do remember, it´s YOUR LIFE. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND ACT!
Good luck on your learning journey in 2021!
I would be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the author:
Jana CHYNORADSKA is the experienced Principal Manager (HARMONY ACADEMY, Slovakia) with a demonstrated history of working in the Education Management industry and developing the original concept of Learn & Lead via several international Erasmus+ projects. Skilled in Career Development, Coaching, Team Building, English, Leadership and Management. Strong consulting professional with a PaedDr. focused on English Methodology from Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia.