By Michael Holland –  

The power of our brain to create and execute habits can be extremely beneficial or detrimental.

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between the habit to walk (think about it) and the habit to grab that unhealthy snack every night.  The brain simply recognizes something being performed several times and creates an efficient routine to execute based on the some sort of trigger.

You drive a car and barely think about the 30 minute drive you just took versus a 17 year old driving for the first time on a busy highway who is emotionally and physically drained after 30 minutes because of everything he must do not to crash.

New managers have the rare opportunity to start healthy habits as they move into their new roles.  Here are 3 habits they should be starting.

The Habit of Focusing on the Right Work

Your previous to do list structure/format/methods need to be examined before blindly continuing to use them.  Your role requires different activities and investments of time and energy.  You should review Stephen Covey’s 4 quads and narrow your gaze to getting to quad 2, that important yet not urgent work.  Need a refresher?  Go here for a graphic and here to watch a 3 minute video on prioritizing your work.

The Habit of Keeping Notes

Your role now requires you to keep notes on the highs, lows and mundanes of your employees.  This is a new habit and unbelievably important.  You need to tell the story of your employees over time and have a place to review that story as you prepare for informal and formal conversations, such as reviews.  I use Evernote to track all my notes on the leaders and executives who work though coaching programs.  Take a quick read of the New Take on Tracking Performance to get up to speed.

The Habit of the 2 Minute Drill

You will get more email than before; a lot more email!  You must create – or renew – the habit of David Allen’s 2 minute drill.  If you can deal with/complete/accomplish an email within 2 minutes do it now.  The time to organize that email and then review it later for accomplishment will be greater than the original effort to just get it done.  Want to learn more about the cult of GTD (Getting Things Done) and David Allen?  Start here at Wikipedia.

Great leaders learn to lead well because they are willing to start new habits as opportunities arise such as a promotion to a new role.  They choose to assess, eliminate, tweak, habits to increase their effectiveness.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • What one habit would you like to change in your daily routine as a leader?
  • Grab a peer and review the 3 minute video on your smartphone while you are waiting for that 5th meeting of the day to start.  Talk about one key learning from the video.
  • Which of the three habits new managers should be starting would you most like to implement?  Why?