4 Habits Great Leaders Adopt During Uncertain Times

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It’s not raw, natural talent or innate skill that makes up the difference between an average manager and an effective leader.

Instead, it’s something anyone can do, but most find it difficult to master. The best separate themselves by changing basic habits. A habit is simply a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. When studying what the best leaders do for Building the Best, I found a pattern leaders leverage to get consistently high results from themselves and their people.  

The pattern is called The Route to Results: High standards produce behaviors. Those behaviors, when practices repeatedly, become a habit, and those habits lead to results.  

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The Route to Results turns conscious behaviors into unconscious habits. 

“Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit that unsuccessful people don’t like to do” – William Thackeray, British Novelist  

If you want to become a better leader during this Pandemic, focus on adding these daily behaviors to your routine, and eventually, they’ll become habits.

1. Own your morning, elevate your life.

Benjamin Franklin had the morning routine figured out. He called the time from 5 AM to 7 AM “powerful goodness.” This time was spent ordering the priorities of the day, as well as writing, reading, and praying. Additionally, Franklin always took the opportunity to answer one critical question, “What good will I do today?”

During an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Robin Sharma provided simple yet powerful advice from his book, the 5 AM Club, “Own your morning, elevate your life.”  

Instead of sleeping in, jumping into the current news cycle, email, or thinking about the current hardships, now is the time to own your morning and elevate your life. This has a direct effect on the kind of leader you are going to be each day. You will immediately assume a reactive and problem-solving mode, which causes you to stray from getting the most important things done each day. 

While a successful morning routine varies from person to person, it can include exercising, praying, meditating, writing, reading, or prioritizing the most critical work for you and your team.

2. A daily text check-in

Every day and every moment matters in the current environment. If your team experiences long periods of silence from you, they will start to fill their mind with fear and doubt. When doubt and fear are heavily present, it’s impossible to perform at your best.  

A daily check-in doesn’t replace your weekly team meeting or your weekly scheduled one-on-one to cover projects or priorities. It’s a short form text message, Slack message, email, or phone call to ask a simple question: “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Your actions during difficult times speak volumes about who you are and will leave lasting impressions. On a recent episode of the Follow My Lead podcast Roderic Yapp said it so well:

“People remember how you made them feel when times are difficult.”

A quick check-in will go a long way with your team. You might not be able to save their job (or your own for that matter), but people will absolutely remember you cared enough to ask this simple question every day. 

3. Read, listen or watch something to grow your leadership skills 

In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the Bubonic Plague. During that time, Isaac Newton developed calculus AND formulated the notion of gravity as a universal force.  

Newton didn’t settle into fear and inaction. Imagine what you could do! When business slows down, an opportunity arises to put your focus outside of your typical responsibilities. Take advantage of this time to develop your skills and the skills of your people. 

I have written and often speak about Growth20, which is the practice of committing to 20 minutes a day to grow your mind and skills. During a slow down, you might increase it to a Growth60. Instead of binge-watching a mindless Netflix show, watch one that could teach you something. You can also chose to read a book, join the ultimate leadership academy, listen to a podcast, dust off a project you’ve abandoned, attend a free webinar, or help team members develop their skills. 

4. Evaluate your communication through the lens of the 3C’s 

It’s impossible to be a highly effective leader without being a great communicator. While the technology for leaders to effectively communicate with their teams has never been better, it doesn’t guarantee success. 

The best leaders talk about their agenda in a way that speaks to their people’s emotions and aspirations.

The importance of effective communication doesn’t stop at people in positions of leadership. A recent study by LinkedIn of HR recruiters and hiring managers, 94% of respondents said a person with good experience and exceptional communication skills is more likely to be elevated to a position of leadership than someone with more experience but weaker communication skills.

To improve and get better, focus on the 3 C’s of Successful Communication: 

Clear: Do they know what you’re asking them to do? 

Concise: Are you using as few words as possible do deliver your message? “Twitterize” it. 

Conclusive: What good or bad will happen if they do/don’t do what you’re asking them to do? 

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If you find yourself missing any of these habits, don’t fret. Look at it as a wake-up call for you. Embrace the power of the route to results and start small. Create a standard of behavior and consciously execute it every day until it becomes a subconscious habit.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of  Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

4 Simple Habits All Great Leaders Master

Have you ever wondered what separates the good leaders from the great? It’s not raw, natural talent or innate skill. No, it’s something more impactful and difficult to master.

Making the jump from a good leader to a great one begins with a dedication to changing some basic habits. Great leaders like Howard Schultz, Jay Wright, Ron Schaich, Ben Franklin, Oprah and others commonly identify simple habits that have led to their biggest leaps forward. My friend Amber Selking defined a habit as, “Something you do so often, it becomes the very essence of your being.” My favorite example of a habit is looking at your phone in the morning. For most, this is done without a second thought.

If you want to be more like these great leaders, focus on ensuring you have the following simple habits in place.

1. Cultivate a positive morning routine.

Benjamin Franklin had the morning routine figured out to a tee. He called the time from 5 a.m.-7 a.m. “powerful goodness.” This time was spent ordering the priorities of the day, as well as writing, reading, and praying. Additionally, Franklin always took the opportunity to answer one question, “What good will I do today?”

Your morning routine is instrumental in how successful a day you will have. Setting aside this time will directly impact your leadership abilities. While this routine varies from person to person, it can include exercising, praying, meditating, writing, reading, or prioritizing the most important work for you and your team.

Too often, people let social media, email, or work shape their demeanor. This has a direct effect on how you lead your team. A leader is put in a reactive and problem-solving mode, which causes one to act counterintuitively.

Most important, be consistent in what time you get up and what you do each morning.

2. Have an optimistic attitude.

Great leaders know that life and leadership don’t fall in a straight line. There is a combination of highs and lows, often interspersed with scattered things out of their control. That being said, the best leaders choose not to be powerless against the unexpected. Alan Stein Jr. told me on the Follow My Lead Podcast, “The one thing you have control over every day is your attitude and your effort.”

Oprah Winfrey credits her immense success as a talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist to one thing: a positive attitude. Winfrey envisioned a life where her biggest hopes and dreams were a reality. She made sure to do so with unwavering optimism, and we all know where that took her.

Having a sunny outlook on life every day is a choice. Implementing a sunnier disposition will quickly become habitual when you realize the weight it carries.

So, don’t let events or circumstances dictate your attitude.

3. Set team goals and write them down.

If you don’t set goals for your life, business, team, etc., the results will almost certainly be disappointing. As the famous Zig Ziglar quote goes, “If you aim at nothing, you will probably hit it every time.”

Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, studied the art and science of goal setting. In researching 267 people from different backgrounds and professions, she found the achievement of goals is 42 percent more likely when you write them down on a regular basis.

Ron Shaich, CEO and founder of Panera Bread, makes time each Christmas to write down his yearly goals. “I write down initiatives for myself, my family, my health, my work, and my God — all the things that I think matter. I write where I’m trying to get to and how I’m going to get there”, he says. Shaich estimates he keeps about 75 percent of his commitments as a result of completing his yearly ritual.

While most leaders have goals for themselves, it can’t be assumed they have been set for their team. It is crucial to the success of your business that you establish what you want to achieve with your team. Then write them down and communicate about them on a regular basis.

4. Model the definition of leadership.

I define leadership as someone’s whose actions inspire, empower, and serve others to produce an improved state over an extended period of time. But simply knowing this definition isn’t enough for the most influential leaders — the real difference lies in living it out.

I have yet to encounter a strong leader who isn’t keenly aware of how important their actions are, as far as setting an example to the people they lead. Many are borderline fanatical about the decisions they make and the positions they put themselves in.

Sheila Johnson, co-founder of BET network, leads by example through her passion. She says, “I want every one of my employees to look at me with dignity and respect. I want to be someone they are proud to work for.”

With today’s busy and noisy world, what matters more than your words are your actions. Be intentional every single day and have a relentless focus on being a role model of leadership for your people.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

5 Simple Habits Bad Leaders Can’t Seem to Shake Off

Conventional wisdom about leadership holds that great leaders are born and not made. It turns out that isn’t true. Some research done by Leadership Quarterly showed that 26 percent of a leader is born or DNA and 74 percent is learned or developed.

Why is this so important?

I have no clue whether you were born with this DNA or not, but I know you can become a better leader by focusing on your habits (those things you do every day without thinking). Will Durant famously summed up Aristotle’s thoughts in the Story of Philosophy by saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, it’s a habit.”

Professionals often assume that becoming a better leader requires adding new skills or habits to their arsenal. While this can help, I’ve also found removing or changing habits can be just as effective.

Here are five habits bad leaders can’t seem to shake that continually hold them back from becoming a more effective leader.

1. Quickly blaming other people

You always know someone struggles from a leadership perspective when you make them aware of a mistake and the first words out of their mouth are, “That was someone on my team’s fault.” Regardless whether the mistake was theirs or not, the best leaders do the opposite. They assume responsibility because they know they are ultimately the one responsible.

Great teamwork and trust are built when leaders are quick to take the blame and deflect praise to their team.

2. Focusing on the short-term over the long-term

Bad leaders wake up thinking and making decisions based on the short-term and not the long term. It’s as if they are wearing a pair of glasses that block out anything beyond a couple months. Dabo Swinney the Clemson football coach has a brilliant perspective about this, “I care more about the 30-year-old version of my players than the 19-year-old version. I want our players to know we empowered, disciplined, encouraged, and equipped them and we didn’t use them or entitle them.”

That’s great leadership because it’s not prioritizing the short term gain over the long-term mission.

3. Making all the decisions

Most people move into a position of leadership because they were good at their job. Typically their first actions are to solve all the world’s problems and be a major part of every decision facing the team. The problem is the people they are now leading are being treated as followers and have a sense of being in a subordinate position, thus creating more followers, not more leaders. As leadership expert David Marquet says, “followers have limited decision making authority and little incentive to give the utmost of their intellect, energy, and passion. Those who take orders usually run at half speed, underutilizing their imagination and initiative.”

The key here is to not only be ok with your people making decisions but make it a core part of their job.

4. Listening to the news or music on the commute

In the past, I liked nothing more than turning on some tunes and checking out mentally during my commute. Then, 4 years ago I was introduced to the world of podcasting and Audible books and it changed my leadership journey forever.

I was so inspired that I started my own leadership podcast, the “Follow My Lead” Podcast. Over 120 episodes later and almost 300k downloads, I have had the opportunity to have a front-row seat interviewing some of the best CEOs, thought leaders, and authors in the country. On a recent episode, Amber Selking said something every professional should hear: “Your people will know if you are willing to serve, sacrifice and listen to them.”

At the end of the day, the best leaders leverage their time effectively and continually invest in their education and development.

5. Believing they are the only one who can do the job

Like most leaders, I met my biggest weakness early on. I thought I was the only person who could do things right, and I had to have my hand in everything. I was the classic micromanager who ended up finishing or completing the work that my team was more than capable of completing. Then someone told me an old African Proverb,

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Not only was it important for me to hear but it’s a powerful lesson for any leader. You can only go so far on your own. Surround yourself with talented people, ask for help, give more responsibility, and try to listen more than you talk.

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a full-service organizational health company focused on improving culture and developing modern leaders. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is also the author of FML: Standing Out and Being a Leader and the upcoming book “The Welder Leader.” You follow him on instagram @johngeades.

Simple Habits Making you a Bad Leader

Everyone has habits. Some are good, some are bad and they range in how severely they affect your daily life. As a smoking habit can hurt you and your loved ones, a non-productive habit you keep in the workplace can do major damage. As a leader, its important to be aware and concentrate on the habits you have that negatively affect others.

No habit regardless of how engrained it is in your daily activities, is easy to change. In order to have a shot at changing it, you first have to be aware of the habit and what routine is causing it.

For me, the habit was talking too much, and the routine was team meetings. I would talk at my team instead of with them and it gave me no chance to listen and observe. It kept me inside of my own head, unable to learn and gain perspective from others. I shouldn’t have been surprised to watch them begin to shut down, get frustrated with meetings, and lose their creativity.

Here are 5 simple habits making you a bad leader:

  1. Getting to the Office After Your Team – In a recent meeting with a friend, he shared how frustrating it was for his leader to show up at the office at 10AM everyday when the rest of the team was there at 8:30AM. Even though he stayed much later than the team at night, it negatively impacted his teams performance and mindset. One of the perks of a leadership position is being able to control your own schedule. Unfortunately, this can have negative consequences in how your team perceives you as a leader.
  2. Talking Too Much- I documented my bad habit of talking too much in meetings but this is a common bad habit for many leaders. Since many decisions have to be made by a leader, it’s natural to dictate and dominate conversations. Unfortunately, this stifles innovation and creativity, which are two of the keys to being successful in any business. Often times, leaders can come up with great ideas by observing and listening.
  3. Sitting Behind the Iron Throne- A mentor of mine told me something I will never forget, “You can’t kill an elk from the lodge, you have to get out in the woods.” When leaders sit behind their Iron Throne (desk), they stay at the lodge instead of getting out in the woods where all the action is. Team members and clients need and want interaction. Losing sight of this is a surefire way to stagnant results and be a bad leader.
  4. Consistent Pessimism- You hate nagging clients, flat growth, long hours, the co-worker who doesn’t perform and everything in between. At every opportunity you speak up with a negative remark to certain team members. Pessimism is contagious and draining. How can you lead effectively if your team looks at you as negative? If there is one thing I have learned from leadership, it’s that people need positivity and constant encouragement in order to perform at their best. This doesn’t mean you can’t expect great things from your team. It just needs to be done with an optimistic attitude.
  5.  Not Holding Your Team Accountable- You might think you are doing people a favor by allowing them the freedom to determine the quality or success of their work. On the contrary, staying too hands-off is doing more harm than good. People need accountability in order to be at their best.

     

Regardless if you are guilty of all of these or just a few, these habits are causing you to be a bad leader. The best part is we can change our habits and now that you’re aware of them, you can change your routine to fix them.

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John Eades is the President of LearnLoft and Host of the Follow My Lead Podcast. He is passionate about the development of people. He writes, and speaks about modern leadership and learning techniques.  You can find him on  snapchat @johngeades.