We are creatures of habit. We all know some habits are good and others are not. What we forget, however, is our daily personal habits translate into our professional lives more than we know. Far too often, I’ve caught myself doing something in the office, that comes directly from my personal habits.
Nothing inappropriate of course.
Rather than focus on the bad habits, there are four important, basic ones, needed in any leadership role.
A little more than five years ago, I took over a team of ten, highly trained, technical specialists. Most of them knew their jobs well and worked hard. A few needed more guidance and focus but showed potential.
I was new to the position and this was my first go around of being the one in charge of the whole operation. What’s more, the staff also knew this was my first time. They were ready to challenge and their expectations were just as high as mine. Regardless of my anxiety and their expectations, I had to perform.
The test of my habits was on.
I needed to earn their trust and show them we were a team. I looked at my habits and immediately realized 4 stood out:
- Accountability. I wanted my team to be accountable to themselves, each other and me. I made a point out of showing my accountability as leader everyday. It became habitual. It helped to gain buy-in to what I wanted from my subordinates.
- Honesty. The saying goes, “honesty is the best policy.” I was honest in everything. My plans, my strategies, why I wanted to do something, why I didn’t. I was especially honest when I was wrong. I admitted my mistakes, learned and moved on. Honesty in everything became habitual.
- Timeliness. One of my biggest pet peeves is lateness. I strive to be on time, therefore early, for everything. I expected it of my team. So, I developed my habit of being on time. I couldn’t expect them to be on time if I was late myself. This goes far in life too.
- Listening. Listening to others is one of the hardest “things” to do. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, listening is a challenge. But listening helped me to learn. I learned what my team wanted. What their kids were up to. What was bothering them. In the end, I gained trust.
Habits Equal Success
I learned my habits influenced my daily existence. Personal and professional, what I practiced guided my actions and words. My actions and words were contributions to my daily interactions and to my leadership. Stephen Covey said, “life is not accumulation, it is about contribution.” I accumulated these habits in order to make a positive, effective contribution.
I still practice these habits daily.
Success in anything comes through effort and planning. What you practice each day, ultimately determines your success.
What habits do you practice?
Also published on Medium.