"There was this wise old management consultant. In fact, he was one of the very first executive coaches. He was a really big deal back in about 330-340 BC. He had this very impressive client list that included people like Alexander the Great. His name was Aristotle. Aristotle said this, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit." That's what he taught Alexander the Great, and the lesson still holds true today.
If you want to be a good leader, you've got to have good leadership habits. But it's not that easy, and here's why; there are two types of habits: habits of comfort and convenience and intentional habits. Humans are hardwired to seek comfort and pursue convenience. Habits also evolve subconsciously, so unless you're intentional about the leadership habit you've developed, those habits will reflect what's most comfortable or convenient.
Let's build the right habits. In fact, let's go one step further and let's build the right routines. Routines are a group of habits designed for a specific purpose. Intentional leadership is based on intentional routines. The most important leadership routines are those that allow you to do three things:
- Care for yourself,
- Care for your people, and
- Think rationally.
Let me explain. If you can't care for yourself, you can't care for others. You need rest, exercise, and some 'me time'. You need to manage stress, your personal growth and your relationships outside of work. If you're not intentional about these self-care routines, they're going to fall by the wayside and you and your people are going to suffer.
To care for your people, you need to engage them while they're working. You need to coach, communicate and connect with them in real time. Now these are different employee-centric routines. If you're not intentional about them, guess what? They'll fall to the wayside.
You need time to think rationally. You need to assess, plan, schedule, solve problems, strategize and make decisions that are rational. If you're not intentional about these discrete thinking routines, you're going to assess plan schedule, solve problems, strategize, and make decisions emotionally. Remember what Aristotle said, "You are what you repeatedly do."
Good leaders are intentional about their self care, their people, and their thinking routines. Ineffective leaders just follow the path of least resistance. They do what's comfortable and convenient, and so do their employees. They are not intentional, and neither are their employees.
Narrow your focus, be intentional, and habits that lead to success will become second nature for you and for your team."
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