The best and fastest way to get a better team and better results is to become a better manager. Investing time, money, and energy into building your leadership skills can show a return-on-investment for the rest of your life. Here are four physical and mental things you can do to strengthen your leadership skills.
Build better physical and mental habits.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” - Frank Outlaw
To create long-term sustainable success as a leader, you need to create habits which can sustain the test of time. A poor attitude can degrade the best team. Poor physical health can degrade the results of even the highest performer. One of the best ways to build better habits is to track your actions. Keep track of you daily behavior in a streak chart. See how many days in a row you can remove a bad habit or replace it with a good habit.
Good physical habits include eating healthy, exercise, and rest. Good mental habits include meditation, sleep, and study. Are you taking care of your physical and mental health with good habits that can sustain you for the rest of your life?
Learn how to say and accept “no,” gracefully.
“It is only by saying ‘no’ that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs
Strong leaders have learned how to say “no,” and they are comfortable receiving it. Weak leaders say “yes’ to everything. They let their team run roughshod or their customers dictate how they do business. Weak leaders don’t know their or their team’s limits. Strong leaders maximize their returns on the few things which are truly important, and they realize that ‘no’ has tremendous power.
The Pareto Principle, named after economist Vilfredo Pareto, specifies an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs. The principle states that typically 20% of the invested input is responsible for 80% of the results obtained. As a strong leader, what are the 20% actions which are responsible for 80% of your success? How can you more consistently say ‘no’ to the other 80% of things which do not drive results? What about your team?
Gather more information.
“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret Fuller
“The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Strong leaders are curious. Strong leaders never stop learning. If you find yourself stuck with a problem, a customer, or an employee, one of the best ways to break free is to give yourself more options. By gathering more information, you increase your chances of finding the correct solution. Strong leaders read on a regular basis. They ask better and more questions than anyone else. They know that more information sparks creativity, drives innovation, and breaks through plateaus.
Be curious. Ask more questions. Learn things outside your area of expertise. Studies show that cross-training mentally and physically creates a synergistic effect that improves all skills. Are you following a path of continuous improvement, growth, and lifelong learning?
Do a walkabout.
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Fredrich Nietzsche
Did you know that early humans developed their superior intellect by walking? By standing and walking, you increase the blood flow and oxygen to your brain. You have evolved to walk and think. Additionally, strong leaders have learned that many good things come from walking around. You learn about problems quicker, you connect with your team, and you free your mind to be creative. Weak leaders lock themselves in their office to avoid distractions and slave away in their own world. Sitting is hazardous to your health and your business.
The walk and talk is a classic story-telling technique used in filmmaking. The walkabout is an age-old rite of passage for Australians. Walking does wonders almost everywhere. However, this is not to be confused with Management by Wandering Around (MBWA), which involves walking around in an unstructured manner, checking on things at random, and micromanaging ongoing work.
Instead, try scheduling walking or standing meetings, take your lunch break to go for a walk and clear your head, or set regular breaks in your long projects to stretch your legs. This technique will also allow you to schedule distractions and interruptions for those break times and allow you to say ‘no’ to them during your intense, focused work time. Are you getting your 10,000 steps per day?
Hopefully, you have discovered some new ways to strengthen and improve your leadership skills. By reading this, you even checked at least one of these off the list for today. By making these mental and physical activities part of your routine, you will continue to be the strong leader your team needs.
By Bill McCrary