How to Develop Good Habits as a Leader

Good leaders are always open to new ideas about how to become better leaders. They don’t assume they know everything, especially as they ascend to higher and higher positions.

They know their strengths and work to make them even stronger. They know their weaknesses and work to make them, well, stronger, too.

You don’t have to be an all-around all-star with no weaknesses, but you should at least make them not be true weaknesses. You should also surround yourself with experts in those fields so they can shore up your skillset and help you get better.

These are some other skills and habits that I think every good leader should have.

First, practice, practice, practice.

Identify seven habits of leaders you admire the most and incorporate them into your daily routines. Practice them every day, no matter the circumstances. Eventually, they will become second nature.

These other habits will require constant attention and work if you aren’t good at them. For example, if you’re not good at complimenting people, work at it. Make it a regular practice and be intentional about doing it. That’s the only way you’ll make these a solid habit.

Second, and this may be the most important habit, be sure that today’s business is done today. Ensure that things are not left in drawers to gather dust, and don’t leave your office until everything is done.

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling overseas or if you’ve been in the bar at the sales conference all night. Get on the computer and make sure today’s business is done today so no one has to wait around for an idea, suggestion, or instruction.

Third, Treat everyone well, no matter what kind of a-hole they are.

Eventually, the real a-holes will self-select out because they can’t manage the culture, or they’ll run afoul of the non-negotiables. But if you treat everyone well, you’ll be able to earn their respect and possibly win them over to your way of thinking.

Of course, that doesn’t work all the time for everyone — there will be a few exceptions. But they’ll be the exceptions, not the rule. Find a way to work with even the worst of the a-holes, because believe it or not, they can teach you something important.

Fourth, never ask someone to do something you cannot do. As the leader, you should know how everything works in your department and what the expected outcome is. But you don’t have to be the best at it. However, anyone in the organization who’s having difficulty and comes to you, if you don’t understand how the thing works, you won’t be able to help them.

Fifth, on the other hand, make sure that you have people who can do it better than you. Obviously, the higher you get into the organization, you have less time to do everything. You do not have to be the smartest person in the room about everything. In fact, if you are, you have hired poorly. 

An organization should be better than the sum of its parts, but the leader should not be. As the leader, you are only as good as your people. But if you can outperform, and are smarter than, the people you have hired, then you have made some poor hiring decisions. Your team will never outperform you, and you will never improve.

Next, find a way to compliment everyone every day. If you’re measuring your business, you’ll know what’s working and not working every day. If it’s working, those people deserve to be praised and complimented. If it’s not working, they need a word of encouragement.

Finally, number seven, never stop learning. Read. Be curious. Talk to experts. Ask people how they do the things they do. Read books about history and historic figures. Read books by experts in your field or listen to audiobooks. Listen to podcasts. You don’t know everything, and the moment you think you do is the moment you need to retire or rethink your attitude.

I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit:

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Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.