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  • Kick Ass Zombie Hunter

5 Leadership Practices for the New Year

Illustration of businesswoman looking into the future at the top of ladder

2022 is quickly coming to a close. And the end of anything is always good time for reflection. In these last days between the old and new, one can take stock of what’s gone by and spare a thought for what’s to come.

If you’re reflecting on how you’ll lead in 2023, I ask that you consider the practices below. Not only will they help bring more humanity into your team, but they’ll also boost engagement and performance.

Weekly Check-ins

In their book, Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall advocate for weekly meetings with team members where you ask two simple questions, what are their priorities for the week and how can you help. Their research shows that weekly check-ins do the most to boost engagement (increasing it by 13%).

And by weekly, they mean weekly. Leaders who check in only once a month see a decrease in engagement by 5%.

Show Appreciation and Recognition

We’ve long advocated for more recognition and appreciation in the workplace. Appreciation and recognition boost engagement, performance, customer service and learning, and decrease absenteeism and turnover. When employees feel valued, they are willing to put extra effort and energy into their work.

However, just like check-ins, appreciation and recognition need to happen frequently. Gallup research shows employees need to be receiving them at least once every seven days.

Focus on Strengths

By focusing on team members’ strengths, you increase positive emotions such as joy, fulfillment, satisfaction, and pride, as well as provide the greatest potential for success. Gallup reports that people who work in strengths-based cultures are six times as likely to be engaged, have higher individual and team productivity, are more innovative, have a higher sense of belonging, and are three times as likely to say they have an excellent quality of life.

This doesn’t mean that team members need to love everything they are doing. Marcus Buckingham states that ensuring employees spend 20% of their day doing something they feel is a strength is enough to reap these benefits.

Encourage Social Connections to Increase Belonging

Researchers for Gallup found that having strong social connections at work makes employees more likely to be engaged with their jobs and produce higher-quality work, and less likely to fall sick or be injured. Strong relationships also help indirectly by increasing self-esteem and confidence and creating positive emotions associated with the culture.

BetterUp research has found that high levels of belonging are linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.

On the flip side, loneliness lowers performance, limits creativity, and affects decision-making. Other employees see lonely people as less capable and committed, affecting how they work with them.

Strong relationships and social connections aren’t merely nice to have in workplaces, they are a necessity. Give people opportunities to connect formally and informally and encourage them to initiate these connections on their own as well.

Celebrate Small Wins

In their book, The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner point to celebration as critical to teamwork, trust, and shared values in organizations. Research in the book shows that, “People who work for leaders who more frequently celebrate rate their leaders’ effectiveness nearly one-third higher than those who say their leaders celebrate less.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of business. However, celebrations help people savor their success and progress, creating positive feelings that build resilience and reduce stress.

A good culture doesn’t require a lot of time or money to create. Just simple, intentional actions that make people feel seen, understood, and valued.



Fight workplace zombies in your organization and join Team Human! Gather a group of fellow workplace zombie hunters to discuss our most recent blog post. Use the questions below to kick start your conversation.

  1. What went well in 2022?

  2. What did you do well that you want to continue doing in 2023?

  3. What would you like to start doing in 2023?


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