By Kathy Miller Perkins 

This article was first published in Kathy’s column as a New Year post, but we believe that celebrating success should be an ongoing practice. Reprinted with permission. 

Leading through the chaos of last year has been anything but easy. Nevertheless, you persevered. Time to reflect on your successes and how you will build on them next year. Use the list below to prompt your review. You deserve applause if you achieved even one or two items on the list. And, include additional accomplishments in the inventory.

You led with heartfelt purpose
The crises facing the world and everyone in it last year created a deep desire to find meaning in life and leadership. You found purpose in your work.

Your purpose and values guided your behavior
You understand that character counts. More than skills, moral fiber determines your ability to handle the complex issues you face. The trick is to allow your heartfelt purpose to direct your actions regardless of your position and title. Your employees, colleagues, and customers respect authentic and consistent leaders in words and deeds.

You communicated a clear and inspiring vision
You inspired others in your organization with a vibrant vision for the future. You communicated it clearly and often. And you demonstrated a strong will to make it real throughout your organization.

You showed others how their work connects with the vision
Communicating a vision is a significant step for a spirited culture. However, frequently leaders overestimate the clarity of their hopes for the future. By showing all employees and colleagues how their work connects with the vision, you make it real throughout your team or organization.

You shifted your leadership approach and style
As the world of work transformed, you discovered the limitations of traditional command and control leadership. Of course, you already knew you needed to find a better way. And this year you turned the corner in changing how you lead.

You practiced collaborative leadership
You practiced collaborative leadership by focusing on relationship-building and shared problem-solving. Collaborative leadership assumes that the collective is more intelligent and more innovative than any one individual in tackling unique, complex, and many-sided problems.

You created spaces for collective conversations
Collaborative leaders understand the power of many voices. Because they respect diversity, they work to align various points of view. They listen more than they advocate and lead through influence rather than power and control. You created the space for collective conversations. And in doing so, you contributed to an empowering culture.

You set clear and appropriate boundaries
You did not mistake the relinquishment of command-and-control leadership with an anything-goes attitude. Collaborative decision-making requires sharing power with clarity around participation, expectations, and roles in decision-making processes. While you contributed to an empowering culture, you also set boundaries to ensure a productive organization with a clear direction.

In his book Walking the Empowerment Tightrope, Robert Crosby recalled a statement he attributed to Thomas Gordon on parenting: "Parents are authoritarian until they can't stand themselves and then permissive until they can't stand the kids." This statement may apply to leaders in organizations as well.

You valued yourself and others
Over the past couple of years, you contemplated how you could contribute to a culture where all could bring their "whole selves to work." And you recognized this shift requires everyone to grow personally and professionally.

You sought personal growth
You stayed curious this year. You know, in a world of constant change, leaders must never stop growing. Therefore, you examined and revised your assumptions. You refrained from making judgments when others differed from you.

You honored, respected, and valued others
You took the time to show respect for others at work. Moreover, you sought out input from your employees and coworkers about what respect might look like in behavior.

You gave up the separation of the personal from the professional
This year, you realized more clearly than ever that complete separation of the personal from the professional is not possible. You welcomed and honored whole human beings at work. The belief that people must leave their personal lives at the workplace door never really held up. And now that so many are working from home, this worn-out assumption is exposed as a myth.

People bring many sides of themselves to their work. Every person is logical, emotional, spiritual, and much more. Therefore, you know that if you act as if others are one-dimensional, you will limit your success as a leader. You created a work environment where people can engage their hearts and minds.

Give yourself at least one gold star!
Even if you check off only one or two of the behaviors in this list, you are a success. Welcome the new year with the conviction that you are competent and growing. And you will continue to build on your previous good work.

Kathy Miller Perkins Career Coach Virginia Tech headshot

Kathy Miller Perkins is a psychologist and a leadership and career coach. In her role as the owner and CEO of a consulting firm, she has assisted leaders of global corporations and educational institutions. Kathy directs a research program exploring the culture and leadership characteristics of successful purpose-driven organizations. She authored the book, Leadership and Purpose: How to Create a Sustainable Culture, and writes regularly for Kathy obtained her B.A. and M.A. from Indiana University and her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Kentucky. She is currently pursuing B Corps certification—a designation for businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.