What's Your Headline for 2021? If 2020 was a test, 2021 will be the year true leaders shine.

By Tim Davis Originally published

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jasmin Merdan | Getty Images

As we approach the end of a year that is frankly difficult to summarize, I can't help but to think about the opportunity ahead. But, before we look to the horizon, I think it's important to take a moment to reflect on the year that has passed.

This year was filled with challenges for everyone. As leaders, we made decisions on scenarios we never thought possible and held meetings with agendas we couldn't have predicted. Nevertheless, we cannot let the fatigue of endless decision-making and pivoting strategies hinder us from planning for the year ahead.

How are you going to use what you learned to break through the fog of uncertainty and deliver on commitments in the new year? Use these four questions as a guide for paving a way for successful leadership in 2021.

Related: Why 2021 Could Be the Best Year For You to Start a Company

What weaknesses emerged in 2020?

This year unveiled a lot about our world, our businesses and ourselves. Leaders were thrown into the fire, having to quickly adjust and make rapid decisions to respond to unique issues. We did the best we could, but we are human and sometimes made mistakes. Amidst the chaos, we saw weaknesses arise in ourselves. Whether a breakdown in communication or a tendency to get tunnel vision, it's important that leaders reflect on the low moments of 2020 just as much as the high ones. Moments of weakness reveal areas of improvement and help pave the way for growth.

What strengths did you capitalize on?

Identifying weakness is an important aspect of professional development. Without honest self-reflection, we limit our opportunities to grow and become better versions of ourselves. It is equally important that we recognize our strengths, which led us to success in navigating complicated situations. Leaders, consider the ways you brought value to the table this year. As a former Marine, I knew that when the health crisis hit, The UPS Store needed to quickly create new business plans and be ready to pivot at any time. My experience in the military prepared me for unexpected changes, allowing me to bring unique strengths to every planning session and briefing. Consider ways you can capitalize on your own strengths and how those strengths can be used to make your business better in 2021.

Related: How to Build Your 2021 Business Strategy in the Face of Uncertainty

What goals were set, and how can you hold yourself accountable to achieve them?

Leaders will be responsible for more in 2021 than they were at the beginning of 2020. Whether your company made a commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, changing how you let your employees work or vowing for transparency in the workplace, keeping these promises starts with a commitment from the top.

At The UPS Store, we've always been dedicated to serving small businesses, but this year, our commitment went even farther when we stayed open for SBOs when they needed us most. This is a commitment we intend to keep, no matter what gets thrown at small businesses next. To help us stay connected, we have an online community called Small Bizz Buzz, made up of engaged small business owner customers. In this community, we share tips and advice as well as gather feedback. Their ongoing and timely feedback keeps us focused on how we're successfully serving them and helps us identify areas where they might need more support.

Who is going to hold you accountable to achieve the goals and commitments you set out in 2020? Consider organizing task forces or forums that can keep you honest about your personal progress and your organization's path toward a common goal. It's important to not lead alone. Bring others on the journey with you. I promise you — you will be a lot more successful when you do.

Related: 4 Key Trends for Retail Entrepreneurs in 2021

What's your game plan?

Every business needs a post-2020 game plan. Same goes for leaders too. Use 2020 as a learning experience that will catapult you into the next chapter ahead. Use the answers to these questions to help you develop a strategic plan for what lies ahead. Questions can give us a moment to reflect on what we haven't yet had time to process, so I'll leave you with these: What do you want to prioritize in the coming year given what you experienced in 2020? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind after 2020? What do you want people to see most from your business in the new year?

All eyes will be on leaders in 2021; use the spotlight as an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

Related: 9 Must-Read Books to Prepare Entrepreneurs for 2021

Wavy Line
Tim Davis

President of The UPS Store

President of The UPS Store, Inc., Tim Davis is an expert in organizational leadership and franchising. With nearly 30 years of industry experience, Davis shares tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners in driving their business to achieve operational excellence.

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