Good leaders make good choices, and one of the best decisions is focusing on personal development. As a fan of lists, I’ve scoured the interwebs and assembled my top five habits of top leaders, thanks to Real Simple, Inc., Huffington Post and Forbes.
- Tackle the Most Challenging Task First
It’s natural to put off what is seemingly the most formidable challenge, but “Eat That Frog” author and strategist Brian Tracy says knocking it out frees up mental energy that would otherwise have been squandered away with worrying about it. One of my favorite quotes: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela
- Embody a Spirit of Generosity
Be big-hearted and liberal with sharing enthusiastic praise and credit with colleagues, teams and clients. Be committed to their success, and they’ll be committed to yours. As a leader, inspire those around you to achieve their personal best – not just because it will make the team more successful, but because you care about each person as an individual. “The key to success is radical generosity.” – Agapi Stassinopolous
- Stay Focused with a Clear Mission and Incremental Goals
Leaders who dedicate time to focus on project plans in advance of the launch have a greater likelihood of keeping themselves and their project teams from getting off-track. Paul Silverman, recommends, “Take as much time as you need working with colleagues to get consensus and define, down to one crystal-clear line, what you are trying to accomplish.” Established, measurable benchmarks keep a team focused on their part of the overall goal. “The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
- Get Some Fresh Air
Take your next meeting out of the office and take in some fresh air and exercise to spike good thinking. Stanford University research says that walking leads to creative thinking. Meetings at social media giant LinkedIn are frequently held on foot as the company subscribes to the theory that walking helps break down formalities, relaxes inhibitions and fosters camaraderie between colleagues — and less eye contact can fuel more personal conversation. Bonus? Outside meetings minimizes distractions — no phones, no email, no texts, no colleagues interrupting you. “Some old fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Learn from Failures, then Move On
Great leaders have a knack for analyzing what went wrong with a flopped project or failed personal effort and, instead of endlessly rehashing the problem, they simply vow “to engage better as a human being, or somehow tweak things a little bit the next time,” says Silverman. They have the ability to make incremental improvements in their performance and ask themselves what they can learn and what can be done better next time. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Kathryn Hamilton, CAE, is Vice President for Marketing and Communications at NAIOP Corporate.