11 Habits Leaders Should Adopt to be Successful
Updated: Oct 7
There are many places in our lives where establishing good habits can lead to great outcomes. Fitness, health, finance are some of the more common areas where people aspire to improve their habits.
What kinds of habits can leaders employ to be successful? Here are a eleven habits that have helped me become a better leader and hopefully they can help you too.
I’m not talking about reading the latest spy thriller that topped the bestseller list (although I love indulging in those too). Yes, you need to read books (check out my recommendations) and articles on leadership. Dedicate time each day or week to reading. If reading just isn’t your thing, consider listening to audiobooks or podcasts while you're driving or working out. It doesn’t matter how you absorb the information, as long as you do so you can make it a habit to continue learning.
Don’t hoard all your newfound knowledge to yourself! Make it a habit to spread the lessons you’ve learned with the leaders you are trying to develop. I believe it is an inherent responsibility of a leader to grow other leaders. Carve out time on a regular basis to host group discussions on articles or books you’ve read, and encourage others to explore those articles and books as well.
Make it a habit to get to know your subordinates on a deeper level than work acquaintance. This may feel a bit awkward, especially if you harbor introverted tendencies or find small talk uncomfortable (see my suggestions for conversation starters). Or you may feel like you're invading their privacy, but it doesn’t need to be that way. When you make it a habit of being genuinely interested in what the other person has to say, they will get used to it and realize you really mean it when you ask how their family is doing. In turn, let them get to know you. This makes you a real person and easier to approach.
4. Visit Your People
Holing up in your office all day does you or your team no good. Make it a habit to visit your people on a regular basis, but don’t make it so regular that you become predictable. Carefully pick the days and times you appear. Coming around every Friday afternoon makes it seem like you’re checking up on them. Coming around at the same time every Tuesday makes it seem like you scheduled it (even if it’s true, it appears as if you’re doing it out of obligation). Switch it up so people get used to you visiting at random times.
5. Be Consistent
Make it a habit to be so consistent, you become boring. I know, this is like the complete opposite of what I just said for habit #4. But people like to know what they’re going to get from a leader. Consistency helps you manage expectations and no one should ever wonder how you’re going to react in different situations.
6. Learn to Let Go
The habit of letting go can be a difficult one to do for some people. No one enjoys working for a micro-manager, so don’t be one. When you tell your subordinates that you trust them to take care of a project, let them run with it. They should give you regular updates and come to you for clarification and guidance or when they need help, but don’t be the kind of leader who gets frustrated because it wasn’t executed step-by-step the way you would have done it.
7. Give Feedback Often and in a Timely Manner
Feedback isn’t wine and it doesn’t get better with age. A lot of people are adverse to giving negative feedback and avoid confrontation at all costs. You cannot be like that and be an effective leader. Make it a habit to find time to address problems early on, and similarly, make it a habit to tell someone they’re doing well as soon as you can. Feedback is meant to help people and shouldn’t be viewed as a negative thing.
8. Be Open to Feedback
It’s important to have confidence in yourself, but there’s a balance. People who are overly confident can sometimes be too proud to accept feedback. Make it a habit to seek feedback and show people you truly want to hear it by acknowledging it and putting forth the effort to make improvements.
9. Be Human
Leaders are human too. Like everyone else, they go through life making mistakes and learning lessons from those mistakes. Leaders aren’t born knowing everything, so don’t pretend like you were. I mean, literally, I don’t know a single leader who was born and knew how to walk or talk. So make it a habit of showing people your human side, that you empathize with them and that you have vulnerabilities too. They will appreciate you for it.
10. Carve Out Time for Yourself
Make it a habit to spend time for yourself. Dedicate time to do the things you enjoy to decompress and spend time with the people you love. Leaders who care will feel this compulsion to take care of everything and everyone. They want to make sure their families are happy and their subordinates are on the right path. They want to make sure their projects are going to be successfully executed. All of this takes time, and you only have 24 hours in a day. If you keep giving your time away, you’ll have no energy left for yourself.
11. Model the Behavior You Expect from Your People
People watch what their leaders are doing, and yes, they will judge them for it. Are they doing what they say, or are they saying one thing but doing the opposite? Make it a habit to exhibit the behavior you are asking of your teams. If you want high performing personnel who with great morale and are excited to come to work, then you need to be that person too. Be mindful though, if you expect your team members to be workaholics just because you are, they may go find a leader who is a better fit.
Comment below: What other habits can leaders adopt to be successful?