The Leader Habit

Master the Skills You Need to Lead--in Just Minutes a Day

The Leader Habit

Author: Martin Lanik
Pub Date: April 2018
Print Edition: $25.00
Print ISBN: 9780814439340
Page Count: 256
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814439357

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Great Leaders Hold Great Habits

When you think of your habits, the ones that most readily come to mind are usually the obvious ones, like your morning routine. But remember that close to half of your behavior is habitual, if not more, and that applies to your work as much as it does to what you do before you arrive at the office. How you start your workday, conduct meetings, respond to emails, answer the phone, and interact with coworkers are all to some degree driven by habits—some positive and others negative.

If you want a promotion, like Laura, or to make the right strategic decision for your business, like Scott, you need to have the right habits.

But how do you build those habits in the first place? Is it genetics? An MBA from a prestigious business school? Attending a leadership development program? Hiring an expensive executive coach? Having the right set of work and life experiences? Practicing every day?

Early leadership theorists postulated that leaders were born. These theorists were convinced that some people were genetically gifted with special characteristics that made them more likely to end up in leadership positions. However, twin studies have disproved this notion. When researchers examined the likelihood of fraternal and identical twins occupying a leadership role, they found that genetic factors accounted for only 30 percent. The other 70 percent was not genetic but learned.

If leadership is mostly learned, then it stands to reason that people who end up in leadership roles must possess certain skills that others don’t have. And this is indeed the case: Decades of research studies have thoroughly documented the skills of effective leaders. We know that the best leaders are good at influencing others, they communicate clearly, they plan ahead and think strategically, they delegate well—and that’s just scratching the surface.

For example, researchers at Griffith University in Australia found that among the fifty-six luxury hotels they studied, managers who had a concrete vision, appealed to employees’ values, empowered employees to make decisions, and coached and mentored them achieved better financial performance than those who did not. Similarly, in a study of one hundred branch managers working at an industrial distribution company, managers who went beyond their own self interest, demonstrated confidence, emphasized shared vision, motivated and inspired employees, encouraged innovation and creativity, and coached and mentored individual employees achieved higher year-over-year sales and profit margins.The literature on the subject is prolific.

In my own research, my team and I reviewed the prolific literature on the subject to see if we could identify which skills are most common among effective leaders. After long hours of deliberation, we came up with a list of twenty-two core skills, which became the organizing framework for the development of the Leader Habit Formula, as I will describe in detail in the next chapter.

At this point, it should be clear that the question at the heart of leadership development isn’t, “Who has the ability to be a great leader?” but, “What’s the best way to develop great leaders?”

If you’ve digested the key message in this chapter, you already know the answer: The best way to develop great leaders is to help people internalize the twenty-two core leadership skills to the point of automaticity— in other words, to turn those skills into habits. How do we do this?

Excerpted from THE LEADER HABIT: Master the Skills You Need to Lead in Just Minutes a Day by Martin Lanik. Copyright © 2018 Global Assessor Pool LLC, d/b/a Pinsight ®. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

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