Leaders Need These 2 Things To Be Successful In 2021

All signs point to big changes this year. Predictions abound related to changes in where we’ll work, when we’ll work, and what organizations will need to be successful in what is hoped to be a year of recovery for many. 

As your organization flexes to meet oncoming challenges, your employees will look to their leaders for courage and clarity. Give those leaders what they need to lead with a clear blueprint for success and continuous feedback throughout.

#1: Behavioral Blueprints
aka, instruction manuals for success

As talent developers, you know the leadership behaviors that drive engagement and business impact:

  • Trust
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Inspiration

Leadership habits like these make teams out of individuals and make goals feel real and achievable. But they don’t come naturally to everyone, and your leaders need more than biannual workshops and on-demand learning to nail them.

leader receiving a behavioral blueprint
Behavioral blueprints give leaders what they really need to ace those habits: clear and actionable behaviors they can begin emulating right away.

Example blueprints for Trust, Collaboration, Communication, and Inspiration

Leader Behaviors That Build Trust:
Keep commitments and promises.
Don’t take credit for the work of others.
Be transparent about what you want and why.

Leader Behaviors That Foster Collaboration:
Be readily available to support team projects.
Share important information quickly.
Help others when they are running out of time.

Leader Behaviors That Enable Clear Communication:
Use easy to follow language.
During a conversation, pay attention and don’t do other things on the side.
When explaining something, be concise and get to the point quickly.

Leader Behaviors That Inspire Teams:
Praise team members when they work hard.
Listen to others’ ideas and take them seriously.
Help others understand how their work contributes to the success of the team and company.

These blueprints are anything but ‘set it and forget it’!
Revisit them throughout the year to ensure your leaders have the most updated habits to adapt to new or unexpected changes. Here, we adjusted the target behaviors related to Communication to address the new needs of a team that’s gone remote:

Leader Behaviors That Promote Clear Communication (Remote Edition)
Stay easy to reach by phone, email, and chat.
Ensure each teammate is well-informed and understands what is currently going on. 
Check in with teammates frequently to know what they’re working on and what they need.

#2: Continuous Feedback
psychologically safe confirmation that it’s working

As these leaders begin to adjust their behaviors, they’ll need constant feedback to understand whether their efforts are working. After all, some of these behaviors will be brand new for them!


Continuous feedback is the answer here. Implement a process where each leader receives frequent feedback from their closest coworkers on how closely they’re aligning to each behavior in their blueprints. This approach will enable your leaders to try new behaviors and quickly see if their method is working. It also prevents them from unwittingly doing the wrong thing for months between assessments.

graphic of a leader receiving feedback from coworkers
Tips for a successful continuous feedback process:
  • Make it anonymous. Feedback providers will feel more safe to be honest if their names aren’t tied to their input.
  • Make it fast and easy. No writing allowed! Feedback providers are more likely to submit feedback if it’s easy to do.
  • Work smart, not hard. Ask feedback providers how frequently the leader exhibits each behavior in the blueprint. This way, the leader can immediately see which habits they’re getting right, which have fallen into their blindspot, and exactly how to fix it.

In conclusion – you got this!
2021 will bring new challenges and test your organizations in new ways – but with the right processes in place, your leaders will be ready for anything the new year throws their way.