Now you’ve had time to digest and reflect on Part 1, you should have a better understanding of a particular pattern of behaviour (habit) that is not bringing you the right results, and what it is that triggers this habit for you. You may also have gained some clarity on how you are secretly rewarding this habit.
As per the quote from the previous post. If you’re now aware that this is a bad habit, you are actually choosing to do it. It’s not a habit anymore, it’s a choice. The good thing is, now you are aware of it we can do something to change it and develop a better outcome.
Need a little inspiration? Here are a few example leadership habits that you may wish to work on changing:
- Telling people what to do - a fairly typical habit for a leader is responding to issues, questions and feedback you receive from your managers with an immediate solution. Having a habit of just telling people what to do, rather than allowing them to take ownership of their own challenges. That’s what you pay them for right?
- Not managing your time effectively – maybe you find yourself without enough hours in the day and working excessively long days over long periods. You know it’s not right but someone has to do it. You know it could be better too.
- Not praising your team for good work – maybe you’re in the habit of just catching your team doing the wrong thing. Coming down on people for getting things wrong. Never praising for the other 95% of the time people are doing good work.
- Losing your temper when things get heated – are people just really good at pushing your buttons. You don’t know how some people manage it but they always seem to get your back up. You get into heated debates and before you know it, you’ve lost it. You’re shouting and you’ve completely lost your temper.
- Not working on your own personal development – you know that no one is perfect. You are also aware that you could be better at your job. You know that you have certain knowledge gaps but never seem to prioritise working on yourself. Sharpening the saw.
- Procrastinating – you find decision making tough at times. Some decisions sit with you for days even weeks because you can’t bring yourself to taking some kind of action. The longer you leave it, it just seems to get worse.
I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this will be able to relate to at least one of the bad leadership habits above, so don’t feel like you’re on your own with this. The journey to becoming a great leader never ends. Ask a great leader. They will happily inform you that they are still learning.
Let’s give you an insight into forming the new habit, so you can make a start on the changes required.
Creating a new leadership habit
Now you have a better understanding of your current habit and the pattern of behaviour you can start to work on changing it to achieve a better outcome.
- Focus on achieving a positive outcome, not moving away from a negative – Most people who work on quitting smoking fail because they focus their attention on what they want less of. Focusing on a healthier lifestyle forces your thoughts away from smoking and towards a positive outcome. This is the same for leadership. Stop yourself from focusing on ‘your temper’ in heated situations. Focus on your calmness and ability to maintain control of your emotions. Focus on what you want more of.
- Visualise yourself succeeding – It was Napoleon Hill, author of the bestselling book ‘Think and Grow Rich’ that said “what the mind can believe, it can achieve”. You need to be able to paint a clear picture of yourself in your mind succeeding. Choosing how you respond to situations, maintaining calm, praising your team and taking action when the time calls for it. Can you visualise yourself succeeding? Can you see yourself doing what it is that you want more of?
- Work on one habit at a time – don’t confuse your thoughts by working on more than one change at a time. Master the art of changing habits one at a time. You don’t have to go big either. If you find the big stuff too difficult, start small. Start to drink more water in the day time. Don’t eat a chocolate bar every break time.
- Notice the cue and your thoughts – This is the most important step in changing your habit. Noticing when your trigger occurs and being aware of your thoughts. You will know when it is happening. Be aware. When you notice your thoughts you can control them. Remember it is just a thought. How you respond is your choice.
- Be comfortable with your thoughts and feelings – accept that they are just thoughts and feelings and that you are not your thoughts and feelings. You’re experiencing some kind of emotion on the back of the trigger and this is completely normal for everyone. Just accept that they are just thoughts and feelings. Be comfortable with discomfort. Sounds strange but until you are comfortable with discomfort, you will continue to relapse.
- Focus on starting – When you notice your thoughts you can start to make the choice of doing something different. Focus on the first behaviour of your new pattern, i.e. swing your legs out of bed in a morning and put your running shoes on, or pick an apple out of the fruit bowl rather than a bar of chocolate. With your leadership habits, start by asking more questions of your managers that arrive in your office with all their big problems. Instead of telling them what to do, ask them, “what do you think we should do?” Make a start and trust yourself to respond in the right way.
- Be accountable to someone else – tell other people about the habit you are changing and ask them to support you. Give them permission to challenge you if you relapse. It’s easy to just stop trying. Having the morale support as well as a critical friend can make a huge difference.
- Be patient and realistic – You will have a wobble now and again. This is normal. Don’t be unrealistic. Expect to make a few mistakes. Approach this as a learner and you will be fine. Hold your hands up when you get it wrong. Being vulnerable and humble will gain you more respect from your team.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – instead of beating yourself up each time you make a mistake, celebrate the successes. Pat yourself on the back every time you do it well. In the grand scheme of things it’s probably not a life or death situation anyway. You’re just being human. A good exercise to practise is, reflecting at the end of each day and making a note of all the things you’ve achieved. Start to shift your thoughts towards the many successes and not the few failures.
Hope this step by step guide to creating a new leadership habit helps. It’s a long journey for all of us and the important step to take is always the first one. Get on the leadership development journey today…. Before your competitors do.
Feel free to ask for help if you need a few pointers.
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