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I’m not a fan of making new year’s resolutions, but here we are preparing to step into 2024 with high expectations of breaking old habits and/or adopting new ones. From my own experience, new year’s resolutions, such as eating less or exercising more, are usually fleeting, leaving me feeling like I failed. So last year I took a novel approach with a resolve to be worthy. To me, that means striving to craft blogs worth reading, deliver talks worth listening to, and meet the expectations of those who may see me as a role model. And most of all, to be worthy of being a member of our civil society and a citizen of our great nation. You can find last year’s blog, Resolve to be Worthy, here:

Power in Restraint
So, what about 2024? I had to come up with an equally worthy resolution. Part of what keeps life interesting is you never know where the next good idea is going to come from. This morning I was reading a piece in the Wall Street Journal by Shaan Sachdev featuring the singer Beyoncé. In the documentary “Renaissance,” that delves into her recent tour, she explained about having to adapt her style as she ages to rely more on her voice than her energetic dance moves. These wise words from Beyoncé commanded my attention, “When a person is really trying to get their point across, there’s a lot of power that comes with restraint.” I couldn’t agree more. Hence this new year’s blog on practicing restraint.

Unbelievably, I found myself having to practice restraint writing this blog! When I read the first version to my husband, a practical engineer, he told me, “it’s too long and rambling—where’s your restraint?” So, I hope this version is worthy of your attention – please read on!

Restraint Takes Strength
There may be power that comes with restraint, but it also takes a lot of strength to practice restraint. Beyoncé was talking from the perspective of a performer connecting with an audience, but her statement is equally relevant to a leader connecting with a team. The best leaders understand the power that comes with restraint. They don’t show up in the workplace as their authentic selves. Like Beyoncé, they evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, then adapt and moderate their behavior to meet the needs and expectations of the individuals and teams they lead. They demonstrate humility through selfless service.

Practicing Restraint
The best leaders also know that by practicing restraint, they limit distractions, enabling them to better focus on the mission and people. Here are a few of the many ways a leader can become even better by practicing restraint:

  • Be attentive and listen to understand—speak only when your words matter;
  • Be concise—it’s harder to write a short, impactful blog than a long, rambling one;
  • Be open minded—not judgmental;
  • Be patient—practice calmness and try not to rush;
  • Be empowering—avoid micromanaging;
  • Be trusting—support innovative ideas and measured risk-taking; and
  • Be respectful—withhold criticism and make people feel valued.

Look in the mirror: What else would you add to the list above to help you practice restraint and become a leader people follow because they want to, not because they must?

Please join me again next week for more on Leading with Character.

If you enjoyed this post, please visit my website where you can buy my book, Breaking Ice & Breaking Glass: Leading in Uncharted Waters, and sign up for my mailing list: