What will define you in 2011? Specifically, I am talking about your leadership. What will it mean to be led by you over the next 12 months? Its a great question to ask because it forces us to look at things from our employee’s perspective. This is the foundation of Autonomy Supportive leadership.

To move beyond a rhetorical question however, lets get practical. I’m going to give you a powerful exercise.

1. First write down one paragraph detailing what you want it to be like for people who are under your leadership. When people ask your employees what its like to work for you, what do you want them to say.

2. After you do that I want you to summarize your entire paragraph in only three words. What three words are going to define your leadership in 2011? Will it be Inspiration, Fairness, and Excellence? How about Visionary, Innovative and Creative? Or maybe Execution, Results, Caring. You pick your three words that you want to define your leadership this year. To help, imagine one of your employees at the end of the year chatting with a friend who asks “What’s your boss like?” and after pausing a moment they sum you up in three words. What are they going to be?

3. For each of the three words write down 10 practical applications. For example if one of your words was Visionary then you want to write down a list of ten possible ways you might demonstrate this quality. Maybe its how you will conduct your team meetings, or telling one employee each month how much you believe in them, or creating a unique scoreboard to measure your progress, or learning to speak in a more compelling and visionary way.

This exercise is very powerful and it helps you take what are sometimes nebulous concepts, and put them into practical action.

To finish, find a creative way to print out your three words and post them somewhere you will see them on a daily basis.

Download the worksheet below to walk you through this exercise.