Here's to a glass half full in 2010

I know it’s January 14, but you’re not already jaded about the new year, are you? You’re still happy to put the challenges of 2009 behind you, and are focused on a big and bold 2010, right?

I’m glad to hear that. And so is Terry Starbucker, the voice behind the blog, Ramblings from a Glass Half Full. A senior operations executive for a service business, Starbucker is committed to spreading “realistic optimism” through a philosophy he calls “Half-Fullism,” or to put it another way, “Dealing with the literal world in a favorable way.”

In his first-of-the-year post, Starbucker shares a New Year’s checklist of 10 things leaders can do in the coming year to make it great. If you're a leader at your company:

1. Don’t Dive in Head First – Take the time to review the year you just experienced, celebrating the victories and learning from the setbacks. Discuss these insights with your team now, before the new year kicks into high gear.

2. Study Up – How familiar are you with the details of your business or project plan for 2010? Absorb the full scope of what you plan to accomplish, so you’ll start the new year on solid footing.

3. Read Your Fine Print – Every leader’s strengths, left unchecked, can have a dark side (something Starbucker calls the “fine print”). For example, a hard-charging, assertive leader could have a tendency to become inpatient or steamroll over people. You must constantly self-correct to make sure you’re striking a healthy balance.

4. Put the Right Team on the Field – While you’re assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, review those of your team, too. Are there any unresolved issues from the previous year? Can you make changes now, before it gets too busy, that will improve everyone’s chance for success?

5. Keep Raising the Bar – In select areas, set higher targets than the year before. Even if a team experienced a “best ever” year, they can strive for better results the following year – and hit them.

6. Synthesize Goals – Reduce your business or project plan to four or five smaller pieces and communicate these goals through the organization. Talk up these goals heavily and be sure to keep everyone posted on their progress.

7. Calibrate Your Accountability Meter – Make sure your teammates know what is expected of them for the year; then, be prepared to lead using the full spectrum of accountability – encouraging and motivating them, but also taking appropriate action if they’re underperforming.

8. Clean Out Your Ears – In a non-stop, multi-tasking environment, this can be tricky, but it’s important to shut out the noise and listen - really listen - to what your teammates are sharing.

9. Give Feedback Early & Often – Even when everything is moving full-steam ahead, you need to pause periodically to give your teammates feedback - and make adjustments early in the process, when it’s easier.

10. Practice Patience, Tolerance & Engagement – Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to keep yourself in check and not become impatient, intolerant of criticism or adverse to conflict. Things won’t always go your way, and as a leader, you have to rise above it and stay calm, open-minded and understanding.

A new year, a new decade – what better time than now to take stock of what’s working and not working in your company – and challenging yourself to “lead” in a more positive, dynamic direction? With the right tools, training and mentoring, you can keep your glass half full and put the power of optimism to work for your business.

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