Paul Butler | Hopes for the New Year

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile

Here are my top seven hopes for our working world in 2024: 

  1. Greater Personal Responsibility: Deep down in our DNA lies a tendency to blame others and avoid personal accountability. However, as long as humans exist, this trait will persist. Nonetheless, a fundamental human attribute is our freedom to choose our responses. Proactive individuals choose to be responsible. Such people serve others better, collaborate more efficiently, and lead effectively. I hope we see greater personal responsibility in 2024 in our workplaces. 
  1. Manage Priorities Better: We cannot manage time; it moves forward regardless of our actions. What we can control, however, are our priorities. As we approach 2024, let’s commit to focusing on what truly matters. Teams and organizations achieve better outcomes when they prioritize effectively. Likewise, individuals thrive as partners, parents and community members when they prioritize intentional productivity over mere busyness. After all, we are human beings, not just human doings. I hope to see more individuals who are “fired up” rather than “burnt out” next year. No one is impressed by your constant state of busyness.  
  1. Lead People, Don’t Manage Them: Rather than speaking of “managing people,” let’s emphasize “leading others.” People resist being controlled, especially by bent-out-of-shape workaholic managers. Trust, built on character and competence, is essential. Effective leaders inspire trust through both their abilities (competence) and their integrity (character). In essence, we lead people and manage things. Remember, the thing with things is they don’t think. Human beings are four-dimensional — the body, the heart, the mind and the soul. Great leaders know how to get people firing on all four cylinders.  
  1. Be Solution-Minded: A sign on my wife’s desk reads, “Everything is Figure-out-able.” History shows that humans have an incredible capacity for innovation and problem-solving. I firmly believe that individuals, teams and organizations can overcome any challenge with determination and creativity. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.” Many moons earlier, William Shakespeare — a man from the Midlands of England — said, “As a person thinks, so are they.” Billy Shakes was but standing on the shoulders of giants as he borrowed the prose from the Book of Proverbs and deleted three words — “(thinks) in their heart.” Regardless of the source, I truly believe that humans working together can achieve wonderful outcomes.  
  1. See Service as a Privilege: Many view service roles as inferior, but true leadership is about service. Exceptional leaders invert the traditional organizational hierarchy, recognizing themselves as servants first. Conversely, self-serving leaders driven by greed often undermine their own success, alienating those they lead. The history books of business warn us time and time again of the selfish acts of those given the noble responsibility of leadership — a task in which they failed. My hope is to see more selflessness in leaders this coming year. 
  1. True Inclusion: While discussions of inclusion have become prevalent, the focus sometimes seems misguided. True inclusion is about creating environments where everyone’s voice matters and rewards are based on merit, not arbitrary criteria. We should champion individual excellence rather than enforce policies that artificially advantage or disadvantage specific groups. Such constructs to affirmatively hit quotas are patronizing to all people and stir up silent frustrations in many. Even small business owners become demotivated to apply for vendor contracts if they start from several steps back just because they are unable to check the box on factors outside their control.  
  1. Move Beyond Minimum Wage: Recent debates about minimum wage increases have raised concerns about their impact on small businesses. While the intent is commendable, the repercussions can be counterproductive. Rather than fixating on minimum wage, let’s encourage individuals to maximize effort to move beyond the base line. Adding more “sick” days will often be merely translated to an extension of vacation accrual for employees who want to put in minimum effort while still demanding maximum benefits.  

In summary, as we navigate the complexities of the modern working world in 2024, let’s prioritize personal responsibility, effective leadership, truly inclusive practices, and sensible solutions to bring out the best of people at work. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected]. 

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