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The best leaders get the most out of their teams, inspire their employees to constantly get better, and smoothly lead their businesses through difficult periods. The importance of good leadership, especially during periods of change or crisis, can’t be overestimated.
Employees who trust and respect their leader are much more likely to be committed, engaged and happy in their jobs. Plus they’re more productive and less likely to leave.
The importance of being a great leader can be overwhelming for some in managerial and leadership roles. However, the good news is, as basketball coaching great Mike Krzyzewski says, “Leadership is an ever-evolving position.” Plus, while some leadership traits can be hard to replicate, leadership habits can be immediately implemented by anyone.
With that in mind, here are five habits of successful leaders to begin implementing today.
1. Focus on time management
Leaders have a long to-do list every day and it’s easy to get almost constantly diverted from the most important items on that list. Without good time management, leaders can find themselves constantly reacting to issues that arise and not spending enough time on the tasks that matter most.
To avoid this common problem, leaders need to be proactive about time management. Doing so will ensure that tasks don’t fall through the cracks, that you’re focused on the right priorities, that you’re modeling good habits and that you’re meeting all commitments. While time management can be difficult, it is a habit that can be developed and internalized. Here are a few tips to help develop the habit of good time management.
Schedule your time the night before. Once the day starts, things can quickly get chaotic and it can be difficult to properly allocate time. Spend a few minutes every evening to prioritize and schedule the next day’s tasks.
Delegate whenever possible. Good time managers are able to determine which tasks require their attention and which tasks can be delegated. Delegation is essential for time management because it ensures that leaders are focused on the right tasks and strategically allocating their time.
Plan for focused periods of work time. Leaders are usually good multitaskers, as they’ve had to learn to juggle many different responsibilities. While multitasking is important, it’s not always a good thing. Difficult and demanding tasks require periods of focused concentration, so it’s important to schedule your time so that each task gets the focused attention it deserves.
Schedule the hardest tasks early in the day. It can be tempting to put off difficult projects as much as possible, but it’s best to schedule the most challenging things on your to-do list early in the day when you have the most energy and focus. Plus, getting these tasks done early ensures that they don’t serve as a distraction throughout the day.
2. Be present and transparent
One of the most important habits of strong leaders is being present, visible and transparent with their teams. This often means simply walking around and checking in with employees. While it might seem like unproductive time, taking the time to be present with employees, in any way possible, is time well-spent.
During these informal interactions, always be honest and as transparent as possible. This authenticity will build trust between you and your team. It also will lead to stronger relationships and healthy culture. Further, you’ll likely find that this time observing how your team and business runs will help you identify problems and opportunities.
Communication is regularly discussed when talking about great leaders. While communication is essential for great leadership, it’s particularly important that leaders are good listeners. The best leaders prioritize listening and ensure that they’re not just listening for content but also for context. Additionally, strong leaders listen without judgment and without trying to control the conversation.
Being a good, deep listener will not only build trust and respect but also ensures that you’re getting the information you need to make good decisions for your business.
4. Get to work early
One habit of great leaders that might seem insignificant is their commitment to getting to work early and being the first person (or one of the first people) in the office every day. Getting in early gives leaders time to organize their thoughts, handle a few mundane tasks, and respond to e-mail before the busyness of the day begins. Additionally, it sets the tone for the team and lets them know that you’re present, committed and working as hard as (or harder than) they are.
Being early to work is just one way that you can set the tone for your team and help build a healthy and productive culture. It’s worth noting that with so many teams working remotely now, this habit might not seem particularly important. However, even when working remotely, “getting to work early” will help to focus your day, ensure that you’re addressing any last-minute changes to the day, and modeling good habits, no matter what the working situation.
5. Look for learning opportunities
The best leaders approach every day looking for something new to learn. They make learning a habit and always look for ways to gather new knowledge, information and skills.
Learning can be formal, like participating in professional development or working with a mentor. However, it can also be informal. This includes talking to team members, asking probing questions, listening, taking notes and observing. Throughout the course of each day, there are ample opportunities to learn. The best leaders seek out these opportunities and ensure that they’re always learning.
Great leaders get the most out of their teams and ensure that their businesses continue to grow and develop no matter what challenges they face. While being a strong leader is not easy, the good news is that there are some habits that anyone can adopt to be a better leader. Start with these five habits to become a better leader now.
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