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How Effective Habits Fuel Leadership Performance
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle once said.
Despite being worn out and sometimes stripped of its meaning, the quote holds its own in the context of executive coaching.
Your goal is to turn excellence into a habit.
As a leadership coach, I am very much aware that the link between knowing the theories and translating them into practice is a habit. I can educate leaders on how they can become better versions of themselves. I can help them adapt to change and adopt behaviors that develop their inner and outer-core leadership competencies. However, I cannot develop these habits for them.
What I CAN do is to point them in the right direction, by detailing how they can develop habits and which habits are worthy of their focus.
In my books, I mostly discuss leadership traits and competencies. Such traits are not the equals of leadership habits. Once my clients and I identify areas of improvement, we determine a compelling development path that enables the leaders I coach to acquire the leadership traits and habits they need.
Traits are natural qualities that respond to efforts aimed at shaping and developing them. Habits, on the other hand, either develop spontaneously, or they need to be developed intentionally. Adding a habit to your daily routine may take significant effort.
Habits require focus, patience, and conscious effort on your part. As such, you may have to try and fail several times before you successfully integrate a habit into your routine.
Habits That Promote Leadership Performance
- Commit to continuous improvement. This is one of the core tenets of business coaching. The foundation of the outer core of your leadership consists of your three Cs. Your capabilities, meaning what you can accomplish. Your commitment, meaning what you will accomplish. And your connectedness, which translates to what you must accomplish. As a leader, you need to commit to continuously improving all three of these components. By committing to that, you instill a culture of continuous improvement into your entire organization. Engaged employees constantly striving to improve will find satisfaction in their work and that is the biggest motivating factor and workday quality metric.
Plan ahead short-term.
- Plan ahead, long-term as well as short-term. Drawing up a plan the night before is a great way to add structure to your day. Such short-term planning allows you to prioritize tasks and hit the ground running. By sticking to your plan, you avoid being distracted so you can accomplish more during the day. To turn short-term planning into a habit, grant yourself some time each day to create a mental schedule of what you would like to accomplish the following day.
- Get up early and get to work ahead of time. An early start will give you the perfect opportunity to assume control over your schedule. Before your employees/team members arrive is the perfect time to catch up on emails and messages and to hit the ground running. Showing up early is also a great way to lead by example.
- Take time out of your day to work out. Do not neglect yourself physically. Your physical fitness is closely linked to your mental and emotional fitness. Working out is a great way to deal with stress.
- Try to learn something new each day. As part of your commitment to continuous improvement, try to pick up bits of information on the go, from informal sources. Interpersonal relationships represent a great source of such informal wisdom.
- Grant your hardest projects top priority. Take care of the lion’s share of the work as early as possible, while your motivation and energy are at their peak. Successfully dealing with the most challenging part of the day can give you great momentum throughout the remainder of the workday.