Leadership is hard work. Researchers have uncovered a pattern over the past few years that suggests that mastery of just about anything has far more to do with the time spent practicing than raw talent or genetics. Malcom Gladwell wrote in “The Outliers” that 10,000 hours seems to be the magic number. The good news is that leadership can be practiced every day at home, at work and even at play. Mastery is possible, but you’re going to have to practice and translate the oodles of leadership concepts into observable behavior and will lead to the desired outcome.
How do you do it? How do you make leadership practices or behaviors reliably and systematically part of how you lead in a world where behavior change can sometimes seem impossible? If simple things like flossing your teeth seem impossible to consistently do, how can a major behavior change like leadership possibly happen?
BJ Fogg, researcher of behavior change and professor at Stanford University, has identified a key to long-term behavior change to achieve the outcome a person desires. It’s called “Tiny Habits.” Watch the 17 minute TEDx talk on YouTube; however, the simple summation of tiny habits is to follow an existing habit with a new tiny behavior and concluding it all with a tiny celebration. The format is this…”After I <existing behavior>, I will <new tiny behavior>” and then celebrate in a way that works for you.
Fogg’s example of flossing goes like this. “After I brush my teeth, I will floss one tooth” (yes, just one tooth) and follow this each time with the tiny celebration of saying “I’m awesome” (and pump your fist).
Over time the tiny behavior grows and results in outcomes that are important to you (i.e. healthy teeth and gums).
Here are fifteen, tiny leadership habit ideas to begin with today:
- Take three deep breaths
- Google and read a single leadership quote
- Text a team member telling them “I’m glad you’re on my team”
- Say the words, “It’s not about me”
- Ask, “What support do you need to get this (important thing) done?”
- Say your #1 priority out loud
- State one accomplishment you had today
- Tell your significant other, “I love you”
- Walk out of your cube or office and say “hello” to one person
- Set one goal for tomorrow
- Jot down one thing your team did great
- Jot down one thing your team can improve
- Read your vision and mission statement
- Drink a glass of water
- Don’t do anything and close your eyes for 30 seconds
Make your own list of tiny habits for those leadership concepts you want to apply. Pick one or two and construct the format, “After I <existing behavior>, I will <new tiny behavior>”. Don’t forget to celebrate with a tiny happy dance, an “I’m awesome,” “Go me” or some other tiny celebration that works for you.
Try it and post your comments or email me with what you discover over the next two to three weeks.