5 Simple Habits of Top Performing Leaders [Infographic]

Posted by Guthrie-Jensen Consultants
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Habit is a powerful force. Notice that many things you do are out of habit—whether it’s brushing teeth upon getting up or journaling at night before bed. Habits can become ingrained in your system, so that you do them very frequently until they become automatic.

Believe it or not, these patterns of behavior have a significant impact not only in your personal life but also in your profession.

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When award-winning author Charles Duhigg wrote The Power of Habit, he wanted to prove that “the key to […] achieving success is understanding how habits work.” This nugget of wisdom can be a good guiding principle as you try to discover how to be an effective leader.

Indeed, there’s a close relationship between developing positive habits and becoming a great leader. This is why our infographic focuses on the habits that you need to master for you to elevate the quality and level of leadership you provide to your organization.

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5 Simple Habits of Top Performing Leaders

The kind of management style you possess does affect your bottom line—from workplace productivity to employee engagement and more. It’s also worth mentioning that how you think, act, or speak as a leader is shaped by the habits you build through time.

These habits that make an effective leader need to be in your playbook.

1. Turn Good to Better (or Best)

Leaders are creatures of vision. They have an insatiable desire to improve things around them and, ultimately, make the world a better place for everyone.

The Japanese call it kaizen—a principle or methodology of improving policies, systems, or processes that can make their business globally competitive.

You can strengthen this habit in a number of ways:

  • Keep a collection of ideas that you can use for inspiration. Whenever an idea strikes you while you’re in the middle of a meeting, trip, or leisure activity, note it down and go back to it as soon as you can and think about how you can develop it further.
  • Brainstorm with your employees. Discuss your vision with your team members and invite them to throw their ideas around.
  • Chase knowledge. Read books voraciously, listen to experts, invest in further education—do anything that will help add to your learning and experience.

2. Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk

As a leader, you need to be good at making speeches that allow you to communicate your plans for your team or organization.

However, in order for you to inspire and motivate others more, you need to follow up words with action. If you say you’re going to do something about a particular issue or challenge, make sure that you have studied everything thoroughly, including timeline or budget projections, the types of resources you’ll be needing, and what the possible outcomes might be. This way, you can manage expectations and be reasonable with the guarantees you offer.

It also goes without saying that you should model positive behavior for others to follow. Company rules are a good place to start—make sure that you follow existing policies, processes, or methods for as long as they’re in effect.

3. Listen to Understand First Before You Respond

Your role as a manager will inevitably mean holding a lot of dialogues with people in your own team as well as those from other teams.

Use these interactions as an opportunity to get to know the person sitting in front of you. Focus on what the other party has to say, which can reveal the challenges they’re experiencing or help you understand the business from another perspective.

To achieve this goal, you can use proper conversation techniques, such as the ones listed below.

  • Begin with a compliment to make the other person feel comfortable enough and open up more.
  • Make small, light talks. This will help you to gradually set the mood for a more formal talk where you tackle the real issue.
  • Ask questions. Just like small talks, questions are crucial in keeping the conversation moving forward. Plus, this is the point when the necessary clarifications can be made.
  • Listen more and talk less. Remember that the conversation is about discovering the other person’s perspective, and that your role is more about facilitating the discussion.

4. Take the Driver’s Seat

Steering your company in the right direction should be second nature to you, and this will depend on your ability to make timely and intelligent decisions.

For one, the competitive nature of business calls for you to be quick in making decisions. When you see that a particular trend, technology, or technique is gaining momentum in your industry, you can’t afford to wait things out before deciding what course of action to take.

At the same time, the decisions you make should be based not only on your first-hand knowledge of the business but also on the things that you value. This guarantees that whatever you choose comes with the highest standards of excellence and is therefore worthy to be picked up by people in your organization.

5. Keep Calm and Watch from the Sideline

Just as you need to take charge, you also need to know when it’s time to step aside, so your employees can discover their own potentials. This is the moment when you turn from being a manager to becoming a coach to your employees.

In terms of employee coaching, one of your core responsibilities is task delegation. This aspect of leadership means assigning specific responsibilities to concerned employees so they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them.

As you delegate tasks, you’re also granting them certain levels of authority, including the freedom to choose their tools or strategies as well as make their own decisions.

No doubt, delegating tasks is a win-win situation. Through delegation, you get to accomplish more things with the help of your employees, and in turn, your employees feel more empowered to work on their leadership or management potential. Just be ready to provide support when your employees get stuck or feel overwhelmed along the way.

Great Leaders Cultivate Powerful Habits

Habits—even the smallest of them—matter. They shape the way people live or work to a large extent.

In the same way, being the high performing leader that you want to become involves building small, positive habits, and committing to them 100 percent.

We leave you here with a quote that accurately describes the power of habit: “If you believe you can change – if you make it a habit – the change becomes real.”

Learn the habits you need to lead your business toward excellence.
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