Leadership, Habits and Ego

Oct 03, 2023 8 Min Read
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Cultivating Leadership Habits and Nurturing Emotional Intelligence

Leadership Habits

As human beings we are all creatures of habits and daily routines. Yes, even you and even me. Have a think about a usual day for you. Do you get up in the morning and go to the gym before work, do you grab that much-needed morning coffee from the café just down the road from your work before you clock in for the day, do you stretch and say positive-self affirmations out loud when you first get up or do you go to your favourite pizza place every Friday night and order your usual?

Habits form a part of our daily lives and are an important part of who we are as people, who we will become and as leaders. We all have different ways of looking at things and going about our day. Just like leadership is a skilled that can be learned and honed, you can also learn how to build good habits and how to break old habits. Learning new habits doesn’t just come easy and happen overnight, believe me I wish that was the case. You just have to be willing to put in the hard yards and really work at building those new habits every day, incorporating it into your daily routine and make those new habits actually stick.

Building Good Habits and Breaking Old Habits

It’s important that as leaders we have good habits in place so that we can run our business smoothly and lead by example when it comes to our team members. But in the process of building those new habits in order to take our leadership skills to the next level, we need to be kind and understanding to ourselves. Sometimes bad habits are hard to break, even if we break our good habits the first time, we need to keep trying to keep that new habit up. It just takes a little bit of work, so don’t be hard on yourself. It can take a couple of months for a new habit to fall into place sometimes.

There is a great book called Atomic Habits (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits) by James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, that offers a proven framework for improving every day. It’s a great read for people who are wanting to change their habits but are struggling. It will get you started on the right direction to forming good habits and breaking the old habits. In the meantime, I have also added some tips of my own below on how you can build good habits.

How You Can Build Good Habits

Practice what you preach

Your team learns how to act and carry themselves in the office by watching you, their leader, and how you conduct yourself. If you leave early or play on your phone too much, they will start doing the same thing and productivity within the workplace will drop. By getting to work on-time, respecting all members of your team, communicating, and getting on and doing your own work – your team members will follow suit.

Be optimistic

I know it’s hard to be optimistic at times, especially when we are all bouncing back in a post COVID-19 pandemic world. But try and stay positive in your mindset as you go about your day, this will help your team members to be more positive. When you talk about your business, try and be optimistic about what the future holds and encourage your team members to see it from your perspective. It also helps to be optimistic when it comes to trying to form new habits, if you fall off the horse. Go and get back on.

Be confident in your abilities

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Be confident in your abilities and who you are as a person. If you are confident, you will create a ripple effect around you which will help members of your team to be confident in the workplace and in the work, they are doing. Be the kind of leader people look up to, encourage confidence in the workplace and you will see productivity soar. I know you can do it.

Create a good working environment

No one wants to work in an environment that is rife with toxic people, bad leaders and bosses, they want to work in a place where their work, skills, talent and experience are appreciated. That’s why it’s important to create an environment where employees feel safe, respected, appreciated and positive. We have reached the point where people won’t stand for working for a toxic boss or even setting foot in a workplace environment that is negative. They will leave in droves.

Praise where it’s due

Give praise where it’s due. Did you tell your employee when he or she turned in excellent work “thank you” or “great job, keep it up.” If you didn’t, you need to get started. You don’t have to rain down the praise every 5 minutes. But maybe if you make it a mission to once or twice a week, to give your employees a compliment or even holding a group meeting with a few kind words from yourself. Your team members will respect and appreciate you more for it.

Listen and communicate

Kindness and empathy are vital in today’s workplaces. You get more out of your team when you communicate clearly and listen to what they have to say. My book ‘First Comes Courage’ is a great way to sit down and explore the power of leading with courage. Not only that, but it will also give you some tips on how to form good habits when it comes to kindness and empathy. You can read more here.

What habits are you finding it hard to break as a leader? What kind of habits would you like to build into the future?

You may like this: How to Create Good Habits in 90 Days

How to Keep Your Ego in Check

Ego trip: a journey to nowhere.

– Robert Half

In the leadership world there are leaders with confidence and then there are leaders with big egos. An ego is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. They believe that the world owes them, that they are the most important person in the room, that they have the right to determine another person’s self-worth and that they are allowed to be rude to their team members whenever they want.

In my opinion, having an ego is dangerous and damaging to any self-respected leader. Egos blind you to what’s really in front of you and causes you to lose perspective. You are forever lost in an ego bubble of your own making. You can spot people with huge egos when they step foot in any room. They always need to be right and everyone else is wrong, they interrupt people, they don’t listen, they claim credit for what other people do, they believe that they are ‘top dog’ and no one else deserves to be in the same room as them.

So how does having an ego help leaders to inspire confidence and motivate their team? It doesn’t. No one wants to work under a leader that is full to the brim of their own self-importance and other bullshit. In the post pandemic world, no one will have the patience to put up with a leader or boss with a huge ego. Once upon a time, people would have put up with it. But now I can tell you, if you have a giant ego, you won’t have staff for much longer. If you have a huge ego, you may blame the staff for leaving, but it’s your own doing.

I believe that many leaders have developed their egos because they are insecure and lack confidence in their own skills and abilities. Therefore, they start blaming others for their own incompetence, instead of seeking help or advice. They fight these feelings of insecurity by over-compensating with actions, including dominating others, making decisions without listening, tell off members of their team for something that was the leaders’ fault and taking credit for what others have done. Anyone remember the movie Shrek? Do you think Lord Farquaad was overcompensating for something with that big castle because of his giant ego?

Discover: 10 Ways Ego Hinders Your Success

However, there is still hope for those with big egos. Because no one has time for big egos anymore, so you had better snap out of it while you still can and check that ego.

1.   Emotional Intelligence

Leave the ego at the door. Build your self-awareness and EQ. This is critical. Be aware of your energy and actions and how they impact others. Become a great listener and have the courage not always be right! Read books on tips to help your EQ and leadership grow, take online leadership courses can help your EQ, be more reflective and self-aware and work life and hire team members who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves.

Read more: Emotional Intelligence During Crisis

2.    Have humility and empathy

When you’re a big boss or leader, it can be easy to let success go to your head. But you need to appeal to the human within yourself and stay grounded. You can do that by having empathy and being kind to those around you. Talk to your employees and remember that they have issues and challenges, just like you do, theirs might be different to yours. However, they are still human too, just like you. Never forget your roots or where you have come from and what you did to get to where you are today.

Discover: The Importance of Humility in Leadership

3.   Keep your ego in check

Easier said than done right? No, your duty as a leader is to lead by example. So, stop right now with those toxic behaviours of not listening to your staff, being rude to them, making them feel like they don’t matter, expecting them to cater to your every whim, read your mind and letting them work in a toxic environment. Say thank you every once in a while, have patience, communicate or even offer a kind word.

4.   Never be afraid to keep learning

The world is changing every day and we can’t be left behind in the past. We need to always be looking to the future and embrace the changes that come with it. As a leader you don’t have to have all the answers, remember to stop listen and learn something new every day. You never know, the new things you learn now might set your business up for success later. A growth mindset is pivotal for success!

Do you have a problem ego? How are you trying to counter it?

This article was originally published in LeadershipHQ

Edited by: Kiran Tuljaram

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Sonia is CEO of LeadershipHQ and has vast experience in organisational development, learning and development, facilitating, and leadership development. She is passionate about building long term partnerships with her clients and making sure she achieves the best results for their business and people.

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