There was a discussion in my daughter’s eighth-grade history class, Reese was sharing with me how her teacher brought up the fact that kids don’t really have any choices in school; that they are governed by a very set, long list of rules. They have rules about start and stop time of the school day, start and stop time of each individual class, how much time and how they go passing periods, between classes. All of their teachers have a set of rules for how they operate in the classroom. And in fact, schools have rules about when kids can actually eat and go to the bathroom.

I mean, talk about rules – but you and I get it right, could you imagine if middle school students had no rules?! I mean, the absolute chaos that would ensue! So we need those rules, and you as an adult understand that in society we need some rules to set the foundation in order to have safety and protection. Even in your workplace, you need to have a foundational set of rules for efficiency, for productivity. But you may cringe when you have too many rules, feeling like it might stifle you. Well, I want to invite you to flip this on its head and think about rules in a different way.

Because you, as an adult, as a leader, when you don’t have rules, you have a natural tendency to aim too low.

With no rules there’s no bar to be set, so you don’t have anything to really aim for. So I’m going to be sharing with you three rules that, when it comes to women in leadership, you need to be thinking about for this year. I want you to use and leverage these rules as the bar, not the foundation, to set your standards in order to really challenge yourself this year and accelerate your leadership skills. Are you with me?

Alright, so the three rules. Rule number one: elevate your communication. Every study and piece of research I keep seeing as we’re heading into this new year is pointing to the need to not necessarily develop hard skills like we have been – though you need those – but to really develop your soft skills. And communication is at the top of that soft skill list. In fact, nearly every answer I give to answer a question is, “You need to up your communication.” That the problem could be resolved with better communication.

So you need to elevate your communication as a bar, as a rule, for this year. Rule number two in this coming year for you as a woman leader is you have got to stop forfeiting your power. Stop forfeiting your power! I know that women, on average, have a tendency to be asked to do certain things, and have a tendency to say “yes” to things. Most of the time it’s because, “Hey, I’m a team player. I don’t want to seem like I can’t get down and dirty and roll up my sleeves when people ask me to do something.” But in fact, every single time you say yes, you are forfeiting your power.

Stop forfeiting your power this year.

You have to find a way to delegate, to say no, to find ways that you can reclaim your power and actually demonstrate your strength as a leader. Finally, rule number three: measure yourself. Measure yourself and do not measure yourself or compare yourself against someone else. You must measure yourself against who you were the day before. If you want to raise the bar and accelerate yourself in leadership, you better start taking stock and measure yourself on it.

Whether it’s a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, on the different skills, your goals – are you even setting goals? Are you looking at what you did yesterday and saying, “Can I be better today?” The only way to do that is by measuring yourself. You’ve got to have the data. I want you to take these three rules when it comes to women in leadership for this year and not use them as the foundation, but use them to challenge yourself. I know you can become the leader that you don’t even realize exists within inside of yourself. You can do it, but only by following these three rules to really raise the bar and get you there this year!