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4 Must-Do Items on Every Leader’s Checklist

January is the least productive month of the year. Now that we’re over that hump, February is a great month to gear up for what’s next in 2023. Like any other year, this year will be filled with opportunities and challenges, achievements and disappointments, zigs and zags. Here are 4 actions that will help you become personally centered, organizationally aligned, and ready to go.

How can you and your team jump start your productivity?

Reconnect to your North Star. What is your big “why?” Why do you do the work you do? How is it helping you live your values? How does your work advance your personal and career goals? Your business goals? What needs to change to move you further along this year?

  • There are hundreds of tools online to help you do this. Here’s one.
  • If you’re already sure of your North Star, here’s a quick tool for moving you forward: with your north star in mind, create a “Start-Stop-Continue/ Improve” list. Focus on specific behaviors like “start spending 5 minutes preparing for every meeting/discussion by writing down how it aligns with my purpose and my goals and the top three things I want to accomplish.” Or “stop complaining in front of my team and focus on solutions.”
  • No matter what you do, write your thoughts down and put an alert in your calendar to check in with them on at least a quarterly basis. As this year ramps up we will be distracted by fire drills, urgent requests, and changes in plans. Aligning to your North Star will allow you to focus more fully on adding value and saying no to non-value-add activities.

Clarify goals. For many of you, December and January are about setting annual goals for yourself and your team. Use February to deeply embed your goals. Make sure you and your team are clearly aligned. Engage your team members in individual conversations about how frequently they want to check in on goal progression and the best way you can support them. Also, decide how you will reprioritize when inevitable change comes along. Even if you did this recently, a quick check-in is important. People lose focus, things change quickly and clarifying expectations at the beginning of the year leads to better alignment and happier team members.

Assess your personal routines. Research shows that having routines can allow us to be more creative. By creating routines around repetitive leadership tasks, we are able to direct our free cognitive resources to learning and creativity. What are your current routines? What else could you routinize? For example, set up ‘do not disturb’ on your messaging while you’re doing concentrated work. That way, responding to messages becomes routinized, and you’re able to respond at a time when you can focus more fully on the messages. Another way to improve your leadership is to consider your daily habits… what do you do almost without thinking or planning? What should you start/stop/continue? Here’s a great list shared by 21 executives.

Do a mental health check. How are you feeling as you start the year? Take an honest look at your emotional and mental health. Many of us are energized and ready to go. Many others are still feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and daunted by what lies ahead of us. Commit time each day to taking care of yourself. Go for a walk. Connect with friends. Read. Do something that feeds your energy. Your company likely has confidential resources that you can access to help you understand and improve your health.

Being intentional around these four areas. Don’t leave them up to chance.


Edith Onderick-Harvey is Managing Partner at NextBridge Consulting.

NextBridge Consulting, LLC partners with clients at key inflection points – strategy shifts, market changes, rapid growth, M&A – to build the organizations, cultures, and leaders they need for what’s next. You can contact Edith at

Read more leadership tips on the NextBridge Consulting blog.

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