Did you know that Benjamin Franklin, the US inventor and politician, worked hard to develop good habits?
He created a revolving list of 13 virtues and focused on one each week, tracking his daily progress in living those virtues on a chart. (If he were around today, he’d probably have developed an app.)
Habits are at least as important for leaders today as they were then. In this 24×7 age we live in, we have so many calls on our time, and we can struggle to get everything done. If we can take the need for conscious thought out of some of the actions we take (or should be taking) regularly, it frees up our time for other things.
We could all do with a bit more time, right?
Here are the four leadership habits I’ve been trying to cultivate:
- Communicate, communicate, communicate – this one is so obvious we can sometimes forget about it! My key habit is regular communication with all my stakeholders: a daily team walk around, a weekly network update, a regular LinkedIn post, a monthly meeting with the Board. They are in my diary and they just happen.
- Balance short and long term – it’s so easy to get caught up in the every day business of work, reacting to what comes our way and spending our time firefighting, isn’t it? My key habit is to take some regular time (I aim for two mornings a week) for the planning and brainstorming activities that can improve the business I lead in the medium to long term.
- Live up to my promises – what kind of leader do you want to be known as? One who promises the world but doesn’t back it up, or one who makes realistic commitments and always delivers? My key habit is to ensure that anyone I’ve made a commitment to knows when I am getting back to them, and then to deliver on that. Every time.
- Take time for myself – we are all human beings, not robots, and we need to take some time to do the things that nourish us. My key habit is making regular commitments to myself to do the things that matter to me outside work (exercise, creativity, social time, etc). That makes me more positive, more energised, more motivated – ready to lead when I get back to work.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit – Aristotle
Of course, I fail sometimes, but I find that keeping these habits in mind helps me to get myself back on track after a failure, and start again the next day.
Sarah Magarey: General Manager – Chan & Naylor Australia
Disclaimer: This article contains general information. Before you make any financial or investment decision you should seek professional advice to take into account your individual objectives, financial situation and individual needs.
· Communicate, communicate, communicate – this one is so obvious we can sometimes forget about it! My key habit is regular communication with all my stakeholders: a daily team walk around, a weekly network update, a regular LinkedIn post, a monthly meeting with the Board. They are in my diary and they just happen.
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