It’s often said that the culture, behaviour and habits of leaders have an impact throughout any organisation, yet when it comes to change, the tactical focus is invariably on the collective, not the individual.
“Corporations in the end are about individuals and how they prepare for the future,” says Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School and founder of research and consultancy team Hot Spots Movement.
“We’ve tended to focus on building tangible assets such as savings, pensions and home ownership,” says Gratton. “In future, we will need to apply the same rigour to building our intangible assets such as vitality, productive skills and capabilities, and networks that help us to transform into new roles.”
With this in mind, here are just four habits that effective leaders swear by for sustained success:
Build your dream team
If you look at somebody throughout their lifetime, the key determinant of happiness and satisfaction isn’t money, says Gratton, but relationships and long-term friendships. “We have totally different sorts of networks, all of which are important,” she says. “Not just with your husband or wife or your kids, but also with the sort of friends who are going to help you regenerate and stay happy over the course of your life.”
As a globally recognised health and wellness coach to Fortune 500 CEOs, Nikki Fogden-Moore agrees that surrounding yourself with the right people affects just about everything you do – from making decisions to productivity and creativity. “Leadership is a lonely road,” she says. “It’s about having people you can talk to and share ideas with in a trusted setting.”
Book a time for everything
Many of us start with the best of intentions but often only book in time for work-related activities, to the detriment of home life and our health, says Fogden-Moore, who is known as the Vitality Coach. “It’s about leading by example,” she says. “If you want your team to be healthy and you want good team performance, you need to plan for that.”
For Brett Kelly, executive coach and founder at accounting firm Kelly Partners, this means booking leave and planning holidays well in advance, a practice he encourages all his clients to adopt. “I don’t mean scratch in your diary that you might go if something else doesn’t come up,” Kelly says. “I mean physically book, pay for the tickets, pay for the accommodation, and commit to yourself and others that you are going away. You can’t get what you don’t know you’re trying to get.”
Be more present
Award-winning author, coach and mentor Cyril Peupion lives by a simple approach “Think Quarterly, Plan Weekly, Act Daily’.
“Most executives let what is urgent take over what is important, so their days are filled with urgent meetings, last-minute requests, emails and other crises, to the detriment of long-term priorities and their personal life.”
The best way to overcome this is to think about what is truly important and protect time to do it, Peupion says.
Bigger picture thinking
Consider what you’re teaching others in the long term, says Kelly, warning that many leaders fall into the trap of thinking they’re too busy to look beyond the day-to-day work cycle. “If you’re not energetic you’ll attract people who aren’t energetic,” he says.
“Your employees are a read out on who you are and so are your children. You might not like that, so be honest with yourself. You’ve got to be quite clear. Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to go somewhere?’”
On this point, Gratton firmly agrees: “The only way to ensure people are productive throughout long working lives is to make sure they go to work feeling authentic, resilient and supported, and leave work feeling networked, inspired and knowledgeable.”