New Year Resolutions for Leaders

Resolve to be the kind of leader we want to follow. Be consistent. We can tolerate even a poor leader if he isn’t channeling a different sort of poor leadership each day. Be real. Let us see how you as a leader effectively manage emotions and frustration at work. Show us what excites you about the challenges ahead.

Resolve to help us understand how we can develop. This helps us be better in many ways. It allows us to understand our future with the company; it gives us a way to structure our efforts to learn more about our jobs, our company, and our industry; and it shows that you have a personal interest, because you have made an effort to know our individual strengths and weaknesses.

Become a better listener. We have ideas. They won’t all be great ideas, but if you listen to us you can coach us to develop our ability to better vet and sharpen the next one.

Hold the micromanagement. Let’s talk trust. Nothing is more frustrating than to be prevented from just doing the job you hired me to do. We understand that it can be uncomfortable to delegate work. We understand that in many cases it is your reputation on the line when our team fails to produce something to our standard.

Hold poor performers accountable. If they can’t improve, pay the price necessary to cut them loose. What could be more damaging to the morale of the team than the struggle associated with carrying dead wood? We understand that you may not want to lose a position, that you may have some hope that you can magically restore someone’s motivation or suddenly implant some talent, or that politics may provide the poor performer with protection.

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first compiler related tools. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

Hopper had attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II, but she was rejected by the military because she was 34 years of age and too old to enlist. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team that was led by Howard H. Aiken.

Owing to her accomplishments and her naval rank, she was sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace”. The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University is named in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Rear Admiral “Amazing” Grace Hooper is well known for having said of leadership, “You manage things; you lead people.”

Harry S. Truman

“Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Harry S. Truman was an American statesman who served as the 33rd President of the United States (1945–1953), taking the office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. A World War I veteran, he assumed the presidency during the waning months of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. He is known for implementing the Marshall Plan to rebuild the economy of Western Europe, the establishment of the Truman Doctrine and NATO against Soviet and Chinese communism, and for intervening in the Korean War.

After serving as a United States Senator from Missouri (1935–45) and briefly as Vice President (1945), he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Germany surrendered on Truman’s 61st birthday, just a few weeks after he assumed the presidency, but the war with Imperial Japan raged on and was expected to last at least another year.

Truman presided over an unexpected surge in economic prosperity as America sought readjustment after long years of depression and war. His presidency was a turning point in foreign affairs, as the United States engaged in an internationalist foreign policy and renounced isolationism. Truman helped found the United Nations in 1945.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr.: Good Leaders Get Out of the Way

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was an American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, and naturalist, who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909. He also served as the 25th Vice President of the United States from March to September 1901 and as the 33rd Governor of New York from 1899 to 1900. As a leader of the Republican Party during this time, he became a driving force for the Progressive Era in the United States in the early 20th century. His face is depicted on Mount Rushmore, alongside those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Roosevelt was born a sickly child with debilitating asthma, but he successfully overcame his physical health problems by embracing a strenuous lifestyle. He integrated his exuberant personality, vast range of interests, and world-famous achievements into a “cowboy” persona defined by robust masculinity. Home-schooled, he began a lifelong naturalist avocation before attending Harvard College. His book, The Naval War of 1812 (1882), established his reputation as both a learned historian and as a popular writer. Upon entering politics, he became the leader of the reform faction of Republicans in New York’s state legislature. Following the near-simultaneous deaths of his wife and mother, he escaped to a cattle ranch in the Dakotas. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President William McKinley, but resigned from that post to lead the Rough Riders during the Spanish–American War. Returning a war hero, he was elected Governor of New York in 1898. After the death of Vice President Garret Hobart, the New York state party leadership convinced McKinley to accept Roosevelt as his running mate in the 1900 election, moving Roosevelt to the prestigious but powerless role of vice president. Roosevelt campaigned vigorously and the McKinley-Roosevelt ticket won a landslide victory based on a platform of peace, prosperity, and conservatism.

While Roosevelt is known for many quotes, one of his best about leadership is: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

Roosevelt recognized that leaders don’t exist to do all the jobs themselves, nor do they exist to lord over those who they choose to complete a task. One of the best qualities in a leader is the ability to recognize the best in others and give them the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge to the task. A good leader chooses the best possible candidates and organizes them, advisers them, keeps them together as a team, and facilitates an environment in which all can be their best.

Brian Tracy: Be the Leader People Deserve

He is the author of over seventy books that have been translated into dozens of languages. His popular books are Earn What You’re Really Worth, Eat That Frog!, and The Psychology of Achievement.

Brian Tracy is the Chairman and Chief executive officer of Brian Tracy International, a company he founded in 1984 in Vancouver, Canada. Brian Tracy International sells counseling on leadership, selling, self-esteem, goals, strategy, creativity, and success psychology. The company is headquartered in Bankers Hill, San Diego, California.

Prior to founding his company, Brian had served as the Chief Operating Officer of a development company. He serves as the President of three companies headquartered in Solana Beach, California. He teaches sales, time management, personal development and leadership. He is the author of around seventy books.

Tracy is well known for saying: “Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”

In this brief, but important thought Tracy notes a common misstep of fledgling and experienced leaders alike—that one cannot lead based solely on the merit of their position alone. No leader will get the best out of people are who are only motivated by the fact that someone else is in charge. In the business world the best work usually doesn’t come from employees who are motivated solely by the hierarchy and the fear of job loss. With volunteers it is doubly important to be a leader people want to follow, that leader should “live the cause” so to speak. The burden of the leader is to inspire good works.

You Can’t Blow an Uncertain Trumpet

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”
~ Rev. Hesburgh

Hesburgh’s leadership style is well described by his famous quote on vision. This can most vividly be observed in his life through his work with the University of Notre Dame in making it more than an athletically excellent American University.

Theodore Martin Hesburgh, was a native of Syracuse, New York, who became an ordained priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross and is best known for his service as the president of the University of Notre Dame for thirty-five years (1952–1987).

In addition to his career as an educator and author, Hesburgh was a public servant and social activist involved in numerous American civic and governmental initiatives, commissions, and international humanitarian projects. Hesburgh received numerous honors and awards for his service, most notably the United States’s Medal of Freedom (1964) and Congressional Gold Medal (2000). As of 2013, he also held the world’s record for the individual with most honorary degrees with more than 150.

Hesburgh is credited with bringing Notre Dame, long known for its football program, to the forefront of American Catholic universities and its transition to a nationally respected institution of higher education. He supervised the university’s dramatic growth, as well as the successful transfer of its ownership from Holy Cross priests to the Notre Dame Board of Trustees in 1967. During his tenure as president, the university also became a coeducational institution. In addition to his service to Notre Dame, Hesburgh held leadership positions in numerous groups involved in civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, immigration reform, and Third World development. Hesburgh was also active on the boards of numerous business, nonprofit, civic organizations, and Vatican missions.