This article originally appeared in Forbes.
A new decade has arrived, which makes it the perfect time to take a step back from the day-to-day hustle and bustle of running your business and finetune your leadership skills so your business and employees can thrive.
The speed of technological, economic and social change in the 2020s will force executives to improve how they retain and develop their most valuable asset: their employees. There’s no way around it.
When I was writing my book Vitamin B (For Business), I devoted many passages to the art of leading teams to achieve company goals. While leaders decide the company’s strategy, it’s the attitude and actions of your team members that determine whether the business succeeds.
Here are five steps that will guide you in building your business, developing the talents of your team members and improving your leadership skills:
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to establish a work environment in which all team members embrace the company’s purpose and values. When team members buy into the company’s foundational principles and understand how to live them out, they’re more likely to give the extra effort needed to help the company grow. If you’re not doing it already, display your company’s purpose, values and mission where everyone can see it so they’ll be reminded of what they’re working for and why it’s important.
Every company should have a long-term goal (think 10-15 years) that will transform the business and that all employees can easily understand. What do you want to accomplish by the next decade? Reaching your “Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), a term popularized by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras in their book Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, requires a written strategic plan that outlines the steps needed to accomplish the ultimate objective. Now is the time to review your BHAG to see if you’re on track. Take a close look at the shorter-term goals in the plan to make sure they are still SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound).
Repeat after me: “I can’t do it alone.” You may have been wildly successful at building your businesses to this point, but in the future, your company will go only as far as the talent, drive and ideas of your team members. Make the 2020s the decade you help your team members improve their skills. Empower them to grow professionally and take on new challenges. Find money in the budget to fund professional development activities (conferences, online classes, memberships in trade organizations, etc.) for team members. The return on investment may be hard to quantify, but believe me, the increased passion and commitment will pay dividends down the road.
I’m not a futurist, but it’s a safe bet that advances in science and technology will change how you do business this decade. Artificial intelligence, for example, has made a lasting impact on manufacturing, health care, agriculture and telecommunications. It’s hard to believe that Siri and Alexa came into our lives in just the last decade.
At some time during the 2020s, your business will be disrupted by new competitors taking advantage of technology that you are not using. Enhance your leadership skills by looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve. Test new platforms and methods to deliver your product or service and manage company operations. Playing it safe is not an option.
In my experience as an entrepreneur and business coach, I’ve learned one critical lesson: The leadership skills that got you this far in life will not get you to where you want to be during the next decade. Starting this year, get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to learn new skills. Identify three new areas of improvement and create a comprehensive list of clearly defined, measurable tasks that will lead you to achieve each goal. Your team members will likely follow suit and increase their energy and commitment when they see you learning new skills.
Steve Jobs once said, “If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Use this decade to improve your leadership skills so your vision pulls you, your team members and your company to greater success.