Good management habits are the foundation of great leadership. They grow at the intersection of knowledge, skills and desire. Leaders are passionate about acquiring the knowledge available and marshaling the skills needed to get the job done right.
It is work, hard work to cultivate those habits but they pay off by supporting your goals and – by building the confidence to anticipate and look forward to meeting new challenges to the success of an enterprise. Too often, success allows those habits to go fallow. When it is pointed out that they are not practicing the good habits that brought them success, some CEOs respond, “I have a good team around me and they need to practice those habits more than I do” or “I have to focus on strategy” or “My time is needed on building the new.”
Many CEOs think that applying new knowledge and utilizing new skills means losing their identity, abandoning what got them to the top. That is not true. Good management habits are the process, not unchanging content!
A very public example of the consequences of unchanging content in its habits is the “Old” GM. At the time of its bankruptcy many analysts believed GM was building the best products in its history. Yet, they could not sell enough of them to avoid going under. Comfortable with being number one for so long, management stuck with “the GM way” and the tyranny of numbers that silenced the voice of individual consumers. It became a self-validating culture that did not adjust to the emergence of more power for consumers to dictate who, what and where their transportation needs would be fulfilled.
By contrast, Ford, faced with the same downturn, changed the contents of its habits. Instead of sticking to the rivalry of fiefdoms, they did away with the “silo mentality” and asked its managers to bring their knowledge and apply their skills to the success of “One Ford.” The habits of good management remained but the content changed to better deal with changing market conditions. This ability to rapidly acquire new skills and knowledge and integrate them into your daily interactions accelerates a leader’s growth and team.
Here are a few techniques to manage your positive habits:
• look back at what you have achieved and acknowledge the practices/skills that supported your achievement
• define where there were gaps – ask others for their feedback and insight on the skills that either help or hinder in closing the gap
• define the skills you will continue to practice and the new ones you need to gain.
• Provide positive feedback to those who are practicing the kinds of skills that support your team and goals.
• Write down where you notice the organization is thriving and what practices are supporting those achievements.
• Put yourself in situations to test your skills and to keep them active.
• Make sure you get to the frontline of how your business or organization runs – don’t get so far away you forget what it takes to deliver on your promises
• Practice your skills in areas where you are uncomfortable and they don’t feel natural
If you are going to lead, you have to own your development process and maintain your personal motivation, through regular reflection and by practicing the habits that create success for you and others.