Forecast 2015: Scott DeRue on Resolutions Every Leader Should Make


Michigan Ross professor says leaders should step back and think about their purpose and actions to start the year.

Scott DeRue, professor of management and organizations and associate dean for executive education at Michigan Ross, shares his insights on key changes we can make in the new year to lead with values and authenticity.

Align values and actions

Are you charting your own course, or are you sailing the winds of others? Do you know your core values? Do your commitments—how you spend your time and energy—align with those values? Consider performing a calendar audit—compare how you are spending your time with the values you espouse as being important in your life. Commit to addressing any disconnects in the new year.

Craft your core purpose

You only get one shot in this life to make a difference and leave your mark. If you are anything like me, you need to feel your life has meaning and is contributing to something bigger than just yourself. Indeed, recent studies in positive psychology show that having a clear purpose in life actually promotes greater life satisfaction, resilience and well-being. So when you think about your life, what result do you want to create? Think big. When you are no longer on this earth, how will the world know you were here? Consider creating your life vision just as you would a company vision. Then, start every day with the end in mind.

Embrace risk

The challenge: to learn and grow adopt a learning mindset and take a risk by stepping outside of our comfort zone. Ironically, our research shows that people who focus on learning and continuous improvement perform better than people who focus on performing well and not making mistakes. Think of yourself as a laboratory. What experiments can you try that introduce reasonable risk but allow you to try new things, get feedback and refine your best practices? Thomas Edison offered his take on learning and risk when he said: "I have not failed, not once. I have discovered 10,000 ways that don't work." Personally, I like Eleanor Roosevelt's take: "Do one thing every day that scares you."

(re)Connect with people

I was recently reminded of how important it is to connect with people who we care about and who care about us. In a day when people count friends by likes and retweets, it is easy to forget that we need to feel deeply connected to others. Yet, our data suggests the quality of our relationships drives everything from life satisfaction and employee commitment to customer loyalty in retail settings. Thinking about your own relationships, consider making a list of the 10 most important people in your life. How much time and energy are you currently investing in each of these relationships? Then ask yourself: whose "list of 10" am I on, and how am I investing in those relationships?

Be thankful

We too often take for granted what we do have, and overestimate the value of what we do not have. It is why poor people want to be rich, and rich people want to be famous. My students are always amazed when I tell them about research showing that people making $100,000 are, on average, no happier than people making $60,000. As you enter into this new year, consider starting a gratitude journal where you record the things you are thankful for in life—and as your gratitude increases, so will your happiness in life.

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-- Greta Guest, University of Michigan News.

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