It’s on your resume, without a doubt. “Exceptional leadership skills.” “Experience leading a team of people.” “Attended leadership training.” The buzz word “leadership” shows up everywhere, and there is plenty of information out there as to what it means to be a leader and how to develop strong leadership skills. What happens after that? When you find yourself in a position of leadership, what can you do to ensure you’re both easing the pressures of leading while maintaining high expectations for your team? The answer is developing strong habits.
A habit is any kind of regular practice. A series of these create a routine. Great leaders have specific routines. Some may schedule all of their time, wake early, and delegate tasks. Some might be hands-on, and creatively flow from one task to the next. Whatever routine you create, be sure to make one that works for you.
The Two Lists
Are you sitting down? Great. Grab some paper and a pen. Write down everything you spend time doing in a day. This includes making coffee, checking emails, scrolling social media, etc. Then, go back through the list and evaluate what you are spending the most time doing. Is your time being hijacked by tasks that are unproductive? It’s time to make another list. Write down everything you want to do in a day. Be realistic, we all only have 24 hours after all. Your habits need to support what is on this second list.
Choosing Your Habits
From the items on the list, you should have an idea of what kind of habits you will need to develop. Consider how early you need to wake up in the morning, and this will help you determine the time you need to get in bed. From there, you can start to schedule your day. Not everyone will want a rigid schedule with every minute planned, but you could at least make a general plan for your day. Include items like your morning routine, your lunch break, meetings, and even creative time. From there, determine the amount of time you need for each item.
Everyone will have different habits depending on work and leadership style, but there are a few habits that will be crucial for every leader. As you look at the list below, try to determine how these might fit into your routine.
- Respect time, even your own: create start and end times for meetings, and honor them.
- Address problems early: problems with your business, whether with people or product, are not likely to fizzle out on their own. Be clear about the problem and communicate the plan for the solution.
- Communicate regularly: with your team and clients, you will need to communicate both formally and informally on a regular basis to stay in-the-know.
- Schedule creative time: you are in this position because of your creativity, whether it be with marketing, hiring, products, etc. Make time in your day to sit and be creative, and do not cancel on yourself.
- Take care of yourself: your own health and wellness is crucial to your ability to lead others. If you are sleep deprived or in a sugar coma, you won’t be an effective leader.
The most important part of developing leadership habits is just that, developing. Constantly work on yourself whether it’s through training, reading, or reflecting.
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