By Michael Holland

Last year I got caught up in trying to get in better shape to lose weight.   I focused my energy on the goal of losing weight which, unfortunately, was the wrong problem to solve.  To be successful, I needed to look at habits that could enable me to live a healthier life.  I needed to find bright spots of success that could be copied to create the coveted healthy habits.  The bright spots were small things really, but things that were flashes of success that could be copied to re-train my brain.  For instance, I needed to copy the bright spot of “moving my body every morning” to create healthier habits for every day.

Leaders all too often solve the wrong problems and limit their effectiveness because they don’t create healthy leadership habits.  When creating leadership habits, don’t solve a problem but instead see where you can copy success.  Here are 4 examples.

  • You think the problem to solve is setting up scheduled one-on-one meetings with your employees. But the success you want to copy is a continual conversation with your employees.  It’s all about frequency and consistency, not so much about perceived quality.  Try this:  Focus on getting with each employee once during the week for as little as 90 seconds.  Create the habit of dialoguing.
  • You think the problem to solve is getting all the work done that your boss and your boss’s boss think your team should be able to get done. But the success you want to copy is changes in the story you tell your team each day as you build them into a cohesive team because those teams ALWAYS out perform other teams.  Try this:  Watch this 2 minute video on teams during your first 10 minutes at work every day for 4 weeks.   Create the habit of using new words, phrases to guide your team to be more cohesive.
  • You think the problem to solve is to convince people of what you know to be right. But the success you want to copy is learning how to really listen.  Try this: Become curious about what other people are actually thinking.  Once a day ask someone this question (or a variation of this question):  Tell me the story that’s going on in your head about ____________.    Don’t speak, just listen like the person in front of you is the smartest, most talented, most gifted person you’ve ever known. Create the habit of active listening.
  • You think the problem to solve is how can you get more done yourself. But the success you want to copy is defining the very next action to take.  One action, once step forward.  Try this:  Write down 5 “activities/projects” that are important to get done in the next week.  Next to each activity/project, write the very next action that needs to be taken no matter how small.  Do the same thing tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.  Create the habit of focusing on the very next thing.

When creating leadership habits, don’t solve a problem but instead see where you can copy success.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What is one leadership habit you’d like to create or change? Why is that habit important to you?  What is the motivation?
  • Of the 4 examples, which would be the easiest or most intriguing or hardest for you to try to implement?
  • What leadership habit would you most like your boss to change?