by Michael Holland    

Habits follow a fairly predictable pattern of a cue (or trigger, craving) which enacts a routine to achieve a reward.  A habit is the brain’s efficient method of decreasing power consumption.  Think about personal habits you perform all the time:  brushing your teeth, walking, reading a text message after hearing the ding, saying hi to your mom on the phone, backing your car out of a parking spot.

Habits can be good for us as well as bad for us: Think about the draw of unhealthy food to relieve stress or the debilitating addiction of some drugs.  The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, is an extremely fascinating and intriguing book which delves into the science of how our brains create these habits and how we together create cultural habits in our organizations.

As a new leader, everything you did was so new to you that you didn’t yet have a habit to help you perform at an efficient level.  You had to figure out. . .

  • How to run your 1st team meeting
  • What to say to your employee who just did something great
  • How to deliver crucial, critical feedback to an employee
  • How to delegate work
  • How to network with new peers

Now, as a seasoned leader you are much more efficient.

  • You can easily prepare for a meeting as well as know how to stay awake in your 5th meeting of the day
  • You’ve fired a few employees
  • You know how to go into autopilot when delivering tough feedback
  • Delegation comes easily
  • Strategy sessions and long range planning are walks in the park

But have you gone too much into autopilot leadership and you’re actually hurting your team?

Seasoned leaders rely heavily on habits to be as effective as possible in their role.  Many of these habits help the leader to be efficient and effective in their roles but sadly many of those habits create dysfunction, unrest and low productivity with teams because the leader is on autopilot.

The autopilot seasoned leader follows the same course of action he has in similar situations without recognizing the subtle differences in composition of the employee groups and the environment, or worse, recognizing the differences but being too lazy or lacking the courage to adjust his routines.

Think like a new leader to awaken yourself to those habits that can and should be adjusted to make you a more effective leader.

Invest the time to think like a new leader so that you awaken yourself to those habits that can and should be adjusted to make you a more effective leader.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Which of your leadership habits might be causing more harm than good?
  • Do you know anyone who relies too much on habit? Do you rely too much on habit? How can you break (or help someone else) break out of their habits?
  • Grab and read a copy of the 30 minute summary version of the book and then share it with a colleague. (The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – A 30-minute Summary)