Five things every aspiring leader should do in 2021

Written by Ellen Booth

Kick off 2021 with positivity and encourage others to do the same.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be wondering where January went. I blinked and before I knew it the first month of 2021 was behind us. I’m blaming the home schooling!

But even though we find ourselves in February already, it’s not too late to plan for the year ahead. In fact, proactively looking to the future is a trait of a great leader. So, whether you’re currently in a leadership role or hoping to take a step up the ladder in the next 12 months, here are some of the things you can do to approach 2021 with positivity and, perhaps more importantly, help others to do the same.

Reflect on 2020

I know, I know. Who wants to look back at 2020?! It’s the year that has its own vocabulary (social distancing, self-isolation, Covidiot to name a few) and it must surely be one of the toughest years on record. But calm seas do not a good sailor make. 2020 didn’t just bring us banana bread and endless Zoom calls – it challenged us and made us think differently. And that’s how we grow.

Now’s the time to reflect. What went well for you in 2020? What didn’t go so well? Be honest about the high and lows of your year (both personally and professionally) and think about what you learnt. Now be really brave and share this with your team. Have a discussion about how you can collectively develop and grow in 2021. Your vulnerability will help others to open up and you’ll be surprised at the progress you can make when people feel comfortable enough to speak from the heart.

Set at least one big goal for 2021

And I mean BIG goal – not just a task you want to tick off your to do list. Your goal should be something that will challenge you and make you feel just that little bit nervous. One of my favourite sayings is ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ (also a fab book by Susan Jeffers). Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Now, write your big goal down and put it somewhere you can see it. Even better, tell your team to create accountability.

Yes, it’s likely there will obstacles – but by understanding where you’re going, you’ll be able to plan to overcome them. By being open with your team, you also build yourself a support system to help you get there, whist showing others the benefits of bring proactive, showcasing your initiative and self-awareness.

Now, that’s the kind of leader I’d want to work with.

Keep your ‘why’ close by

I’ve already mentioned those obstacles. The big ones that make you question if you’re doing the right things and, on your worst days, if you want to strive to achieve that goal at all. That’s why it’s critical you remember your ‘why’. Why did you set yourself that big goal? How will it benefit you? How will it benefit your organisation or team?

Keep that ‘why’ top of mind and go back to every time you’re having a bad day. Usually, our ‘why’ can be a very personal thing that we want to keep to ourselves. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing it, write it down somewhere safe. It will really help you to keep pushing towards that goal.

Plan how you’ll get there

You’ve set your goal, shared it with your team and know why you’re doing it. But what now? You need a plan! If your goal is ambitious enough (and it should be), you’ll need to break it down into smaller steps. There might also be new skills you need to achieve it or perhaps new relationships you need to make. Be open about the areas you’ll need to develop to achieve your goals – nobody is perfect and even the most accomplished leaders have room for growth.

2021 looks likely to be another challenging year – but with purpose and a plan your goals are within your reach. Keep going and if you need a helping hand along the way you know where to find us.