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Senior Correspondent

Here are 10 ways to become a successful leader in the coming year:

  1. Over-respond to courage when you see it in others. Bold mistakes are better than timid success.
  2. Spend 20 percent of your time acknowledging problems and 80 percent creating solutions. The 80-to-20 ratio is usually reversed. Successful leaders find a way forward. Pessimists can’t lead. Hand-wringers inspire hand-wringing.
  3. Create environmental solutions. For example, play happy music if you want people to feel up and calm if you want relaxation. Environmental solutions prevent nagging, bossing and persistent intervention. Place a barrier to the left if you want people to turn right.
  4. Go outside your organization to deal with personal discouragement. No exceptions. you don't have to be “up” all the time. But when darkness closes in, find light outside.
  5. Mourn with those who mourn, and rejoice with those who rejoice at least for a while. You don’t get it from their point of view if you don’t acknowledge it. See big problems when others see big problems. Don’t minimize, but don’t sit and play in the mud.
  6. Build on progress more than fixing. All leaders deal with mistakes and failure, but darkness expands when fixing is your focus.
  7. Get people in their sweet spot. Don’t press through repeated failure and nagging frustration. Promote people into their strengths.
  8. Respond to resistance with gentle persistence. Focus on big goals, and adapt on short-term methods. Say, “Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish. What can we try that moves us forward?” Bowling people over drains their motivation.
  9. Answer persistent resistance with vision clarification and realignment. Ask, “Are we pulling in the same direction?” Short-term goals won’t help if they’re pulling north, and you’re pulling west.
  10. Create and celebrate small wins all the time. Long-range is fine for the boardroom but disappointing where the rubber hits the road. Momentum is a series of small wins.

Bonus tip: Answer less. Ask more.

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