By Michael Holland

The habits we create as leaders cascade into continual behaviors; sometimes for the good, other times not so much.  We’re not entirely sure what we do or don’t do, we just walk through the day doing this leadership thing.  We sit in the same seat each day at the same meeting, we deliver annual performance reviews and we say hi to employees in the hallway as we work 9 hours a day.

Unfortunately, leaders have allowed themselves to create and institutionalize mediocre leadership habits.  To break habits, leaders need to employ brain awakening mini-habits.

As an example, think about that co-worker who has gotten in shape.  They didn’t just keep doing the same thing every day they had been doing nor did they binge exercise a couple of days.  They started walking some distance every morning before work.  Jump forward 365 days and they have walked over 700 miles.  A mini-habit of taking a small walk was the keystone to changing larger habits in their “move more, eat less” journey.

Here are some habits you should wake up to and some mini-habits to consider as you walk through your day as a leader.

  • Not the habit of the annual performance review but the mini-habit of spot coaching.  You create a rhythm of conversational feedback.
  • Not the habit of attending 6 meetings a day but the mini-habit of changing the seat you normally sit in at each meeting.  Your perception of the people and the meeting content is adjusted.
  • Not the habit of a 4-page, multi-colored to-do list but the mini-habit of David Allen’s 2 minute rule (if you can deal with/complete/accomplish/delegate “it” in 2 minutes then do it).  Your throughput of work increases.
  • Not the habit of working 9 hours a day but the mini-habit of doing the right things first,  investing in the Quad 2 work as per Stephen Covey.  Your perception of accomplishment matures.
  • Not the habit of listening to your peers drone on about how bad blah, blah, blah is but the mini-habit of finding one thing that’s positive in every person, conversation or situation.  You’ll create an atmosphere that inspires you to approach the day’s challenges with a strength, an inspiration to be the best leader you can be.
  • Not the habit of saying “hi” to your employees in the hall everyday but the mini-habit of asking a personal question of an employee.  You’ll seed a relationship and be on your way to earning the right to lead.

When you take a small step sideways testing out a mini-habit you allow your brain to wake up which creates the opportunity for growth.  Great leaders seize upon those opportunities to learn to lead well.  Will you?

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • In your next meeting, sit in a different seat.  Make note of what differences you see and feel.
  • What habits would your employees want you to change?
  • Which habit to mini-habit do you disagree with the most?  Why?
  • Which habit to mini-habit do you like the most? Why?