What makes a great leader? What daily actions can you take to grow personally and professionally?
We will cover 7 daily habits that make outstanding leaders.
Habit #1: We’ll cover the one thing you can do every day that builds conﬁdence and immediate success.
Habit #2: Moving through your day, you’ll face opportunities to put your core values to action when you make decisions. In this section, we’ll cover how to choose your values.
Habit #4: Working with a team can be challenging work. It is important to remain mindful, authentic, and trusting of others in order to create a cohesive team. We’ll cover how to do that in this section.
Habit #3: You’ll discover how to exercise your creative muscle so you’ll be able to think and lead in new ways.
Habit #5: In order to build a team that gels well, you need trust. We’ll discuss 4 ways you can build trust as a leader.
Habit #6: We’ll look at the important concepts of authenticity, selfcompassion, and communication.
Habit #7: Strong leadership needs strong mental and physical toughness. We’ll cover some ways to exercise your mind and body.
There are speciﬁc habits you can follow that will allow you to lead with peace, strength, and courage.
These habits are a great way to move one step forward on your journey as a leader.
Now let’s look at these daily habits in greater detail…
7 Powerful Habits of Highly Successful Leaders
Making your bed can strengthen your ability to lead. Here’s how:
1. Consistent structure. Routines are an important part of each day because they provide a consistent structure.
○ This structure provides a stability that is key to outstanding leadership because it gives you strength and peace of mind at the very beginning of the day.
2. Predictability. By knowing exactly what your morning looks like, you are able to avoid any unnecessary confusion or indecision.
○ This predictability decreases anxiety because your mind doesn’t need to be riddled with unnecessary predictions about what your day will be like.
3. Greater self-discipline. Sticking to a morning routine increases self-discipline in all areas. This habit requires intention and patience. This ritual will provide an inner strength that will permeate all of your affairs, making you a stronger leader.
4. Satisfaction. Regardless of the day you’ve had, you always get to come home to a made bed. That is where the satisfaction of a morning routine comes full circle. When you unmake your bed and tuck yourself in at night, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction regardless of outside stressors.
It’s important to set up the ﬁrst hour or two of your day to be the same every morning. Start with making your bed.
See if you can go the ﬁrst hour of your day without checking your email or social media.
Remain peaceful and slowly begin your day. This will feel much more satisfying than the shock of the alarm clock jolting you into reality.
If you have trouble sleeping, establishing a nightly routine is a great way to get your sleep in order.
Turn off technology at least one hour before bed. Take time to slow your mind and relax. It can be hard to go from work-mode to chillmode, but this transition is important. If you don’t take time to let yourself slow your thoughts and be mindful, you’ll likely experience more stress.
If you can always count on your mornings and your nights looking the same, you’ll feel a better sense of security throughout your day.
Life is always uncertain, and that’s one of the only things you can be certain of. However, you can implement a structure that will help tether you to the present moment.
Regardless of how much your mind wanders throughout the day, regardless of the ups and downs, you’ll always have a fresh setting in which to start and end your day. This contributes to a more peaceful environment at home.
When you feel refreshed and energized, you’re more likely to approach your interactions with the same attitude.
Being a leader requires a quiet stability. One way to work towards that consistency and dependability is by making your bed in the morning.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON VALUES?
Your values represent what you really stand for. When you’re acting according to your values, you’re turning them into verbs and living them out loud.
For example, if you value honesty, you may act according to that value by remaining honest in all of your interactions. If you value reliability, you may demonstrate that value by being consistently available to those who rely on you.
Having a set of core values can be a sort of safety net in situations that may be uncomfortable or unclear. By looking at these values, you can make a decision based on the type of leader you want to be.
Whether your specialty is programming or tap dancing, making something opens your mind to being creative in new ways. New experiences in creating art unleash your mind because you get to stretch it in new directions.
It can be intimidating to paint a painting or make a coffee mug from clay. There’s no need to do something that sparks immense anxiety. However, you can challenge yourself a little bit.
See what it’s like to make something new:
1. Start easily. Begin by choosing a coloring book and your favorite color markers. You can work your way up from there. Eventually, you might try painting or sculpture!
○ The important thing is to choose something that is a different type of creative than you’re used to.
2. Reap the beneﬁts:
○ Trying new creative endeavors leads to decreased anxiety and increased peace-of-mind.
○ Being creative means taking risks. It means believing in the impossible and dreaming the biggest dreams. By embracing new ways of thinking, your mind will awaken to new pathways of innovation.
○ Being creative also allows for faster and more effective problem solving, a critical skill for strong leaders.
This new type of experience will ripple into many aspects of your leadership style, enabling you to think in new ways.
Part of creativity is the ability to be ﬂexible, especially when challenges appear in your path.
Obstacles don’t mean that the path is ruined. Instead, obstacles tell us that there’s a more effective route to our goal. Sometimes obstacles lead us to the goal in a way we never would have seen without that hiccup.
Try these strategies to strengthen your ability to be ﬂexible:
1. Go with the ﬂow. Because life is uncertain and (unfortunately) we can’t control everything, it’s especially important to remain ﬂexible during times of stress or confusion. With constant upgrades in technology and efﬁciency, the way the team operates is constantly evolving.
2. Keep an open mind. Flexibility requires an ability to meet unusual circumstances with an open mind and motivation to push forward. Outstanding leaders respond to the needs of their team and take steps accordingly.
○ For example, when a potential issue appears, it may be necessary to set aside the planned work for the day to address this need.
○ Responding to this deviation can be handled calmly and seamlessly. Instead of resisting the current needs, embrace the new direction and see where it leads.
○ This tactic will also ensure that the highest priority items are done ﬁrst, even if they sneak up. Teams run like a well-oiled machine when everyone is willing to have an open-mind.
3. Let go of expectations. As a leader, it’s important to be able to let go of certain expectations. This can be difﬁcult to do, but it will help foster new ideas and attention to detail.
○ One behavior modiﬁcation you can do today is imagine what it would be like to let go of expectations. You don’t even have to let go of the expectations yet. Simply imagine what it might be like to enter the day without expectations.
○ Let go of your idea of how the day must go. What would happen if you let go completely and addressed the present moment?
○ Instead of thinking ﬁve steps ahead of your current conversation, try focusing on each word and each idea as they come.
○ The ability to remain present in the moment is essential to remaining ﬂexible.
○ By sticking to what you know now, you can choose your next step wisely.
Resisting the present moment is the fast lane to frustration. By letting go of your expectations, you can embrace the ﬂexibility you need to lead others forward. You’re able to accept and address each moment as it comes.
Discover how mindfulness meditation is as simple as breathing:
1. Get ready to meditate. Find a quiet spot where you can sit comfortably on the ﬂoor or in a chair. Sit upright but remain comfortable. You can keep your eyes open and focus on one spot in front of you, or you can shut your eyes.
2. Next, focus on your breathing. Feel yourself inhaling. You can even think to yourself, “Oh, here I am, inhaling.” Exhale. Notice, “Oh, now I am exhaling.” Try to do this consistently.
3. Notice when your mind wanders. Your mind will naturally wander. The moment that you notice your mind wandering is the truest moment of awareness.
4. Bring your focus back to your breathing. You can gently return your focus to your breath. You haven’t failed at meditating. In fact, you’ve succeeded!
Mindfulness meditation strengthens focus – a change that occurs after just a couple of weeks of consistent meditation.
If you tend to be an anxious person, meditation is the right thing for you. It may seem daunting to sit quietly for more than just a few minutes, but you can work your way up to a time that you’re comfortable with. If you can stick through a sometimes uncomfortable beginning, a steady meditation practice will decrease anxiety the more you do it.
Depending on your style and preferred coping skills, you can develop a mindfulness practice that consists of engaging activities that work for you.
By setting aside dedicated time to practice mindfulness each day (start with 5 minutes!), a residual calmness will wash over the rest of your day.
Try these mindfulness practices:
1. Sort buttons. One fun mindfulness practice requires one big jar and a lot of buttons. Dump out all of the buttons and then organize them into whatever categories you want. Arrange them by size, shape, color, in order from smallest to largest, or anything you want.
○ The point is to get lost in the moment and focus on what is right in front of you. Instead of leaving your current moment and jumping back in time or far into the future, try seeing what it feels like to really be here right now.
○ Arranging buttons may not seem like much, but you might ﬁnd that it’s the break you really need.
2. Pursue creative activities. When you embrace your creativity and pursue creative endeavors, you can practice mindfulness.
○ Try coloring in a coloring book for 10 minutes.
○ You can paint a painting with your favorite colors and pay careful attention to each brush stroke. Be intentional with each color. Really feel what it’s like to hold a paintbrush in your hand.
3. Get back to nature. Perhaps you need a break to go breathe fresh air in nature. Whether you take your dog to the dog park, head to the beach, or go for hike, immersing yourself in nature is a great way to practice mindfulness.
○ There is something very healing about being outside and feeling free.
○ Spend time each week in nature, observing the wonders of life going on around you.
MINDFULNESS IN YOUR DAILY LIFE
If you don’t want to carve out speciﬁc time to do a mindfulness activity, you can ﬁnd ways to seamlessly integrate mindfulness into your existing daily routines.
Try these strategies:
1. Start by brushing your teeth. While you brush your teeth, try focusing on the bristles on your gums, or the taste of the minty toothpaste on your toothbrush. Maybe you can smell the minty freshness ﬁlling your mouth. Maybe you hear the bristles brushing in small circles, just like your dentist always reminds you.
2. Take your dog for a walk. While you walk, simply focus on details of the landscape right in front of you. Try not to bother yourself with the typical commentary that occurs throughout the day. As you walk, observe.
○ Observe the colors of the leaves, the sounds of the cars, and the barking from other dogs as you walk past them. You can focus on your heels hitting the ground, and then your toes.
○ Simply take in, with all of your senses, exactly what is occurring in the present moment.
○ When your mind wanders, simply notice and return your attention to what is going on in the present moment.
3. Eat mindfully. Mindful eating is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. So frequently, we ﬁnd ourselves rushing through our meal, talking with others, or even doing work while eating. Rarely do we truly pay attention to each bite we take and each taste we taste.
○ Pay close attention to your food. Take in each smell and texture of every bite.
Outstanding leaders practice mindfulness. And their team members receive the beneﬁts of this practice. By practicing mindfulness, you’ll be able to retain an open mind and clear head. When facing obstacles, you won’t be met with stress. Instead, a consistent calm will remain in the moment and it will be easy to focus on the task at hand.
Because mindfulness so improves attention, you may begin noticing things you’ve never seen before. Attention to detail is a skill best developed through mindfulness.
You’ll also notice greater feelings of fulfillment and fewer feelings of pressure or stress. Your ability to regulate emotion, manage stress, and stay calm will radiate from you.
This sort of energy is contagious, and soon your whole team will also feel at ease. Mindfulness will enable you to create a culture of calm. By doing so, you’re creating a team of people who are secure and willing. This can lead to powerful new ideas that will continue to make the world a better place.
EMPOWER YOUR TEAM
Allowing others to take the reins can at ﬁrst seem counter intuitive. If you already know how to do something well, it can be difﬁcult to let someone who doesn’t know how to do it take an attempt.
However, this practice is important. By allowing others to take new leaps, they will feel more secure in pursuing the team’s mission.
Finding creative ways to empower a team can be difﬁcult. The most important thing to do is acknowledge hard work. You don’t need to provide positive praise every day, or even every week. But it’s important to voice appreciation for those who go above and beyond.
ALLOW ROOM FOR INNOVATION
A culture of trust and follow-through will develop leaders within the community. These leaders will inspire their peers. This spread out leadership leads to a special kind of collaboration. When all parties feel present, valued, and empowered, new innovations can take place.
See how this transformation happens:
1. Get started. At ﬁrst, new ideas and taking risks can seem intimidating or daunting. It’s easier to stick to the tried and true ways of doing things. But what if there’s something better? What if there’s something right under your nose that could change the world?
2. The best way to brilliance is with a team of dedicated people:
○ In an environment that feels safe and non-judgmental, people are more likely to communicate while collaborating with each other. Peers will create small thinktanks, where no one is afraid of a bad idea. The very best ideas frequently evolve from an original not-so-awesome idea.
○ Collaboration ensures movement towards big, creative goals. With greater connectivity, resources for growth are plentiful.
3. Think long term. With each passing year there is even more inspiring innovation. That innovation was born out of brave leaders taking leaps. The future is happening in every moment. There is constant newness. Constant freshness. Always forward.
Allowing everyone on your team to be a leader and giving everyone the power to pursue growth inevitably leads to innovation. As their leader, you’ve inspired those around you to create this environment of success.
Have no fear, letting others take new risks doesn’t mean that you have to stand by while mistakes are made. These situations are great chances for you to provide guidance and mentorship.
You can always teach something new to those you lead. As a leader, you have the opportunity to guide those who have never walked the path that you have.
Combining the wisdom of experience and the clarity of newness gives a fresh perspective on the big picture.
You will also beneﬁt by allowing yourself to be ﬂexible and open minded while learning from those you lead.
Self-compassion is pivotal to authenticity because it allows us to be okay with being ourselves.
Plus, part of being a truly outstanding leader is having compassion - for others and for yourself. By changing your negative self-talk and addressing your downfalls with compassion instead of self-criticism, you’ll notice an obvious shift towards positivity.
Self-compassion builds resilience, it increases productivity, and it decreases negative rumination.
Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher who has taken on the study of self-compassion, explains self-compassion. She says, “instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings.”
In her book, Self-Compassion, Dr. Neff outlines three elements of self-compassion:
● Common humanity
Let’s look closer at these qualities of self-compassion:
1. Self-kindness. When you make a mistake on your leadership journey, be grateful for an opportunity to practice self-compassion by changing your self-talk.
○ Changing your self-talk is a process. It begins by observing when you’re being critical. And then you replace those critical thoughts with self-loving thoughts. Eventually, this process will become automatic.
○ Follow these steps:
i. Be aware. Notice your self-talk when you’re in a negative head space after making a mistake.
ii. Observe the negative feeling. If you ﬁnd yourself repeating negative phrases to yourself, take a moment to bring your awareness to that line of thinking.
iii. Change your thought. Try writing down one of those negative thoughts. Next to it, write down an opposite and true positive phrase that you can repeat to yourself instead.
2. Common humanity. Feeling negative about ourselves can often be isolating. A key part of self-compassion is recognizing the common humanity that runs through all humans.
○ When you make a mistake, or something doesn’t go as planned, see what it’s like to feel a sense of connection with all who have felt the way you do.
○ Practicing this over time leads to more compassion for others. When your teammates make a mistake or take the wrong route, you’ll be more forgiving and less blaming.
3. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is another major factor in self-compassion. When you approach a situation with mindfulness, you’ll ﬁnd that you won’t feel so wrapped up in the situation.
○ You can use mindfulness when you’re having a whirlwind of negative self-talk. Instead of letting your thoughts sweep you away into a black hole of self-doubt, try coming into a mindful awareness of your thoughts.
○ This will help you put things into perspective and take a step back.
There are simple exercises that you can do in order to make self-compassion a part of your regular thought processes. You can set aside time, or you can integrate self-compassion into your daily life.
Try these techniques to increase your self-compassion:
1. Go out to eat. Take yourself out for your favorite food and keep the thought in your mind that you’re doing it because you love yourself. During your meal, repeat self-loving phrases. Try to go the whole meal just saying nice things to yourself.
○ If you have a hard time coming up with nice things to say about yourself on the spot, try writing yourself a short note or letter stating objective facts, such as “I have potential. I am capable. I am a hard worker.”
○ You can also refer to this note during times of stress or feelings of failure.
Authenticity requires clear communication. While it’s a good thing that others cannot read minds, it can be frustrating when you want them to exactly understand your vision. In order to get your message across, you’ll need to develop ways to help others understand your goals.
Better yet, let them be a part of the goal-making process. Get insight from others and give direct, thoughtful feedback on their ideas.
Include these ideas in your daily interactions to strengthen your ability to communicate clearly:
1. Listen. A huge part of communication is listening. By listening to others and observing their actions, you’re able to gain knowledge of what they do or do not understand.
○ Others can tell when you’re not listening to them. They’ll act accordingly, and that’s how miscommunication begins.
○ It’s a good practice to only have one conversation at a time. This allows all parties to feel like they’re getting the attention they deserve so they can have their voice heard.
○ While others are talking, taking brief notes will help you comprehend and remember the information.
2. Pay attention to your body language. Body Language plays a large role in communication. In fact, over half of our communication is nonverbal. When you’re communicating, ensure your body language is communicating your ideas accurately.
○ Keep an open and upright posture and make eye contact.
3. Understand what you may need to communicate. Before you pass along a plan, project, or idea, work on clarifying it for yourself before giving it to others. It might be helpful to write down key points, words, or goals so you can have guideposts while communicating.
Communication is essential to progress. In order to move forward effectively and authentically, communication is key. When you say something, let your actions communicate your ideas as well. Take a moment to come back to your breath, asses your values, and take on a fresh perspective.
Authenticity isn’t easy. Outstanding leaders have the courage to be fearlessly authentic in all areas of their lives. It takes practice, selfcompassion, patience, and willingness. However, the payoff is worth every moment of uncomfortable learning.
Cardiovascular routines such as running, hiking, boxing, and dancing also have wonderful mood-boosting beneﬁts that you’ll feel during the work out, after the work out, and consistently with regular practice.
You can start by getting your body moving for 30 minutes a day just a few times a week.
There’s no need to run a marathon the ﬁrst time you put on running shoes. Go easy on yourself. It won’t take long into your workout for you to notice that you’re feeling clear headed. Endorphins are being released in your brain. This collection of brain chemicals directly increases your energy level and mood.
When you ﬁrst start exercising, it works well to set small goals for yourself and your exercise routine. Start with a 30-minute outdoor walk with your dog. Work your way up to longer work out sessions.
Move toward just one goal at a time, building upon success after success.
Joining a gym is a great way to get some accountability to your goals. You can get to know a community of healthy people and use the gym resources to learn about new workouts and how to be healthier.
Does the idea of joining a gym make you feel uncomfortable?
These tips can help:
● It can be intimidating to join a gym, or even enter the doors. Don’t worry, you don’t need to wait until you’re in shape to feel comfortable working out.
● One way to start getting comfortable with the gym is by going in and asking for a tour when you get your membership. Ask questions and be observant. This is a great way to get to know a staff member, and it will help you feel more comfortable asking questions in the future.
● Once you have your gym membership, the next step is going to the gym. Start by telling yourself that all you have to do is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes. No one is timing your workout, so you don’t need to feel shame about how long you’re in the gym.
● If all you do is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes, you’ve had a successful work out. You’ve conquered the fear that so many have when going to the gym. Remember, these feelings of insecurity are a great way to connect to common humanity.
● You can rest assured knowing that nearly everyone in the gym is or has been just as intimidated as you are. Use this as a way to connect to those around you.
Feel inspired to take better care of your body! Enjoy the mental and physical beneﬁts that exercise can bring you. Step up to a higher plane in your leadership abilities.
Silke Glaab (aka SilkCelia) is a psychologist (MA) who helps executives, entrepreneurs and experts to be more resilient to stress and dramatically improve their thinking and feeling so that they enhance their performance and leave a legacy in their companies, their lives and the world.
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