A Leadership Agenda for 2013


What I love about a new year are the expectations and anticipation reserved for something new. We permit ourselves to mentally travel back in time and revisit the old and peer into what worked and what didn’t. Many of us then become resolute to change or continue doing whatever our mental time travel revealed to us.

Certainly resolutions have many downsides. But it can be empowering to look at our own humanity, accomplishments, failures and investigate what can be learned and acted on.


Our best work suffers, and our leadership is weakened when we don’t find and reach for the proverbial pause button


It is with the above intent that I present to you a possible leadership agenda for 2013.

The following items are geared towards individual leadership action. Consider it a personal agenda for growth.

Make Time for Solitude

Daily competing demands tug at our attention and distort our perspective on what’s important. We hastily run from one meeting to the next with little to no time to reflect on what was discussed, decided. By day’s end we have depleted our energy and mental capacity.

Our best work suffers, and our leadership is weakened when we don’t find and reach for the proverbial pause button.

The competing demands and distractions are not likely to subside. Leaders must make room on their calendars for solitude. Time defended as vigorously as other people’s meetings (needs from you). Use solitude to read over meeting notes. Plan. Strategize. Read papers relevant to your profession. Meditate. Pray.


Create a sense of unity and expand team identity amongst virtual and onsite team members


Go Deep with Employees

Connect with your employees beyond understanding their workload or project updates. Make it a priority to get to know the whole employee: both the professional and personal aspirations and interests.

Explore social technology like Google+ or Salesforce to expand how employees interact and communicate with each other. These help create a sense of unity and expand team identity amongst virtual and onsite team members.


Don’t leave visual reminders of loss


Create an Environment of Optimism and Joy

2013 will not likely see easing of local and global economic hardships. The dirty “L” word – layoffs – are likely to cross executive lips throughout the year. Not exactly morale boosters.

Look for ways to counter the negative influences of the economy. If you have empty cube areas from all those layoffs, rearrange the area to make better use of the space. Don’t leave visual reminders of loss.

Discover employees’ strengths

Know what each person on your team’s strengths are and find ways to align them with work they currently do or could do. This is a great collaborative exercise to do with your team.


Simply look to the fiscal cliff fiasco for reasons why it’s important to think beyond positional leaders’ needs and agendas


Explore consequences of management decisions

Play out the impact of decisions on employees. Simply look to the fiscal cliff fiasco for reasons why it’s important to think beyond positional leaders’ needs and agendas. Managers (and politicians) can get too close to a problem and be blinded to how employees’ might interpret a decision and ensuing concerns they might have.


If I were to summarize the “why” behind the items listed, it would be this:

  • Focus on workplace elements you can influence or control that make working with you rewarding and worthy of staying.
  • Counter the uncertainty that hovers over organizations and our country with meaningful work and a motivating work environment.

2013 will be another tough year for employees and organizations. Your leadership can provide some needed guidance and reassurance that together you and your team can grow stronger.


Graphic by ImPact Design


Change Leader | Speaker | Writer Co-founder and CEO of ExchangeGain. Passionately explores the space where business & humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post. The Optimistic Workplace (AMACOM) out 2015

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com/blog Alan Kay

    Shawn, it won’t surprise you to know that my experience with my clients is that discovering employees’ strengths is a very powerful tool. When employees uncover their strengths for themselves, it’s even better. As that happens, the organization starts to notice its strengths.

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com Al Smith

    Love this Shawn. You are off to a fantastic start in 2013. I really hope more leaders find this site and read (and apply) what is here.

    Thanks for all you do, man.


  • http://exchangegain.com Shawn Murphy

    I’m currently studying the philosophy of strength-based leadership practices for my book. The value of it is very evident, at least to me. Are you familiar with Strenghtscope? It’s a British company. The suite of tools that have is impressive. I recommend checking them out.


  • http://exchangegain.com Shawn Murphy

    Despite the business environment, we can choose to do our part as leaders to minimize the negative impact to the workforce.
    And we certainly appreciate you and your vocal support. Happy New Year!

  • http://www.frymonkesy.com/blog Alan

    Not familiar with Strenghtscope, but very familiar with the strengths-based and positive psychology movement. There’s a ton of research been done on it by folks like Martin Seligman. When I met him a few years ago we talked about the business applications of PS. Needless to say, Marty’s a researcher so he thought applications would evolve by doing more research.

    I also spoke with Tony Hsieh of Zappos a few years ago about how he used PS as one of the building blocks of his people focused organization. I like Tony’s work because he took Marty’s theories and ideas and created practical applications in the workplace for his people. The outcome was his ‘Happiness’ ideas.

    Back to strengths, the opportunity I see is in creating practical, everyday tools that people can use to deal with the situations that arise in their workplace. Not just to feel better about themselves, but to leverage their skills, behaviours, etc., and to apply them to work processes too, e.g., planning, customer experience, project management, stakeholder relations, etc.

  • http://exchangegain.com Shawn Murphy

    Certainly Positive Psychology has some growth in raising awareness in its importance to organizational behavior. I agree with you that there are tangible and actionable ways managers can apply the “teachings” to make the workplace better today. It’s a major undercurrent to what I believe is a key to making our workplaces suck less and enrich employees personal and professional lives.

    As always, we value your perspective,

  • There’s a more human way to do business.

    In the Social Age, it’s how we engage with customers, collaborators and strategic partners that matters; it’s how we create workplace optimism that sets us apart; it’s how we recruit, retain (and repel) employees that becomes our differentiator. This isn’t a “people first, profits second” movement, but a “profits as a direct result of putting people first” movement.

  • Connect

    Newsletter Subscription

    Do you like our posts? If so, you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receiveThe ExchangeGain Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!
  • Contact Us