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3 Habits of Highly-Effective Business Leaders

For most people, leadership isn’t something you simply adopt one day. It’s something that requires concerted effort. The process of growth and learning demands humility, wisdom, and foresight. 

That process starts with cultivating the right habits. Here are three habits that every good leader must learn early-on. 

Know When to be Present and When to Focus on Work

It’s no real secret that we live in a culture of distraction. Everywhere you look, there are countless stimuli waiting to sap your attention. To be a good leader,  you must train yourself to ignore the noise and focus on the top priorities. 

“Today’s typical workplace is characterized by the sight and sound of desktop and smartphone notifications, keeping executives in a state of hyper-responsiveness that would make Ivan Pavlov proud,” writes business coach Steve Glaveski. “Push-notifications are sapping our ability to get into flow, to do our best work, and to leave the office feeling truly accomplished. Instead, we’re more likely to leave the office feeling like we’ve worked all day with little to show for it.” 

When you’re focusing on an important task, treat your notifications the same as you would during a meeting. Set your devices to either airplane mode or Do Not Disturb. Pair this with occasional email and phone breaks to ensure you don’t miss anything important.

The frequency of those breaks comes down almost entirely to how long you’re able to work without interruption. No one is capable of being on all the time, and even the most productive men and women tend to work in brief bursts.According to the Draugiem Group, a leading business consultancy firm, the ideal ratio is 52 minutes of work, 17 minutes of rest. Train yourself to follow the 52-17 rule, or find a ratio that works well for you.

As a leader, it’s your job to be available when you’re needed. But in most cases, even urgent requests can wait a few minutes while you take care of the most pressing tasks.

Here’s a quick article with some tips on how to better focus on work, and de-stress to focus on work.

Don’t Just Talk. Listen. 

One thing many leaders forget is that there’s a time to talk, and a time to listen. Just because you’re experienced doesn’t mean you’ve heard every idea under the sun, being knowledgeable doesn’t mean you can’t learn something new from your staff.

The best leaders understand that their role isn’t just to dictate, but to engage. Active listening makes people feel both heard and appreciated.  When someone comes to you with a problem or a suggestion, take it seriously and endeavor to understand both the face value and the nuance of what you’re hearing. 

Leadership expert David Grossman recommends taking the following steps

  • Approach each conversation as a learning experience. 
  • Focus entirely on the person you’re talking to. Don’t let your mind wander, and don’t think about what you’ll say next. 
  • Respond with open-ended questions rather than those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. 
  • Summarize what you hear and how you understand it to ensure you’ve grasped the meaning of what you’re being told.
  • Pay attention to body language. If the speaker appears nervous or agitated, encourage them with positive feedback. 
  • Learn to read between the lines. Oftentimes, what someone says and what they mean are two very different things.
  • Pay attention to how you respond. Always show respect for the other party’s point of view, even if you disagree with it. 

In essence, good leaders approach each conversation as a teaching opportunity and learning opportunity. When someone is talking to you, focus entirely on what they’re saying and how they’re saying it.

Practice Accountability

The best way to gain the respect and admiration of the people around you isn’t to be flawless and beyond reproach. It’s to show that, in spite of all you’ve accomplished – in spite of everything you are – you’re still human. You still make mistakes, just like everyone else.

A great way to practice accountability in the workplace is to practice communication with employees. Be willing to step up and take action, asking them about their experience with management in their workplace, any issues that may need to be addressed, or any other thoughts and suggestions they are willing to share.

Conclusion

Focus. Respect. Accountability. 

These are the hallmarks of an effective leader. Practice them, and you’re well on your way to greatness. Ingrain them into your personality, and you’ll be the kind of leader everyone wishes they were.