Loading

Cross-Functional Learning


Our well-rounded business content is designed for Leaders & Managers to implement change with ease & improve accountability amongst their teams. Here you’ll find Articles from thought leaders in their fields, have access to practical Business Templates, learn new skills from On-Demand Webinars & connect to our Expert Panel to answer your organizational challenges. Stay informed & proactive…Join Us Today!

Join Now

7 Habits of Highly Sustainable Leaders

By Christina Haxton (1510 words)
Posted in Professional Development on June 9, 2013

There are (4) comments permalink

Add to My Toolkit

By Christina Haxton, Speaker, Author & Executive Coach, Sustainable Leadership, Inc.

Your brain is not designed to hold ideas, your brain is designed to have ideas.” – Robert Allen, ‘Getting Things Done”

 

Because you are paid to think, to prioritize, to make the right decisions quickly … if you are a senior manager, your brain is your greatest asset.  Especially if you want avoid burning up or burning out in your career. 

 

An informal survey of 150 senior managers who attended my last Sustainable Leaders Strategy workshop revealed the biggest challenge they faced was “having too much to do in too little time with fewer resources than ever before.”  The speed with which business must get done today is light years faster than even 15 or 20 years ago.  In many industries (technology), change happens too quickly and if you only strive to keep up, you will be out of business faster than you can say “Buck Rogers.”     

 

There are only 24 hours in a day and you cannot create “more time” in a day.  The solution for most senior managers is to work longer and harder to get the job done.  The only problem with that solution is that it is a recipe for burn out.  What if you broke the rules and shifted your beliefs to recognize this truth:  Time is a limited resource & Energy is an infinitely unlimited resource.  You cannot create more time.  You can, however, create more energy by taking control not only of your time, but where your attention is within that time frame.

 

My personal observation is that Sustainable Leaders who feel happy, satisfied and productive at the end of each day actively focus on BOTH how much they DO and DON’T DO to conserve brain power and leverage energy successfully

 

Here are 7 Habits of Highly Successful, Sustainable Leaders 

 

#1.  Be Selfish With Your Time

Say “No” 100 times for every time you say “Yes.” If saying “No” is hard for you (as it is for most people), add “No, thank you” so you can get the added benefit of being grateful and appreciative, if not polite. 

 

If you are like most busy high-level managers, your schedule is overflowing with back-to-back meetings, several important projects, managing conflict among your team, in addition to other stressors.   How many times have you said “Yes” too quickly, without checking your schedule first, then really regret the fact you said “Yes” as you struggle to find a time to fulfill your promise?  Let’s not forget the resentment toward the person that brews on the backburner for asking in the first place.  That’s not fair, is it?  Imagine you are really just doing them a favor by honestly saying “No thank you” up front.  They will be more grateful in the long run, too.  And if you can’t muster “No thank you” try “Let me check my calendar and I’ll get back to you.”  At least that will buy you some time to muster the courage to say “No.”

 

#2.  Avoid Multitasking

The latest studies in brain based learning prove that multitasking is not only impossible (we switch attention, our brains are incapable of focusing on two things at once), but to make matters worse, the reduction in accuracy for even the “best multi-tasker” doing the simplest of tasks is almost 50%.  Pretty scary when you think about the complex tasks you do simultaneously (driving a car, talking on a cell phone or talking on the phone and typing an email response).  Try to focus on doing one thing at a time.  Notice how much less time it takes, especially because you don’t run the risk of hitting “send” prematurely then spending time on damage control.

 

#3.  Listen More, Talk Less

Bottom line, people will feel heard and be able to find their own solutions more easily without unnecessary interference from you.  And, you will conserve your brain power for more important challenges that lie ahead.

 

#4.  Leverage Other People’s Energy

When you delegate, trust and offer challenges to people, not only will it benefit you, but also they’ll feel better about you if you do.  We all know the importance of delegating so that you aren’t seen as the control freak in the corner office.  But did you know that when you delegate responsibilities and tasks (with their buy in of course), the meta-message (as long as the deadline is reasonable or they are involved in setting the deadline) or message under the message, is “trust.”  The receiver feels you believe in them enough to give them the opportunity to rise to the challenge.  Win win.

 

#5.  Prioritize Prioritizing

Indecision happens when we have too many thoughts getting stuck in or out of sequence in the cognitive pipeline.  Often we can get thoughts flowing again when we ask ourselves “What’s the one most important thing that needs to be decided and acted upon before that decision can be made?” 

 

Whether you are a list maker or mind map fan, get every thought bouncing around inside of your head OUT of your head and onto paper, a whiteboard or computer program you are in the habit of checking or using regularly (“Freemind” is a simple and free example).  Robert Allen’s “Getting Things Done” is a must read for “How To’s” when it comes to being more productive so you can take quick, effective action.

 

#6.  Take Frequent Breaks

The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC for short) is the part of your brain responsible for your ability to avoid distraction, make decisions, reason, understand and memorize.  Think of it as powered by rechargeable batteries, not a 220v power cord plugged into an outlet in the wall.  It needs frequent recharging (among other ingredients) in order for high performance.  Taking a short 20 minute walk inside or outside your office building at the most hectic time of day will not only benefit your metabolism and your waistline, but also your brain.  Try shutting off your brain for 5 minutes just two or three times a day, talk to a co-worker about a non-related subject (this is probably why gossip is so enticing), play a game of angry birds or juggle.

 

#7.  Practice Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness

Think of how many “mindless” automatic patterns you have every day.  Repeatedly doing routine tasks (like shaving, putting on your pants or brushing your teeth) the same way every day, doesn’t do your brain any favors.  You are just deepening the same brain groove over and over.  You are wasting valuable real estate!  If you normally put your right leg in your pants first, put your left leg in first instead.  If you begin shaving your face left side first, try starting your first swipe on a different part of your face.  Do you have stairs in your office building?  Which leg do you typically start with as you start up a flight of stairs?  Try what you think I’m going to suggest next ….

 

If you are paid to think, treat your brain and your energy as precious commodities that need daily TLC to function most effectively and with ease.  Pick one of these 7 Tips to practice each day and notice what happens to your mind and your mood; you too will become a Sustainable Leader one small step at a time. 

 

What is your favorite tried and true tip to increase your energy reserves?

 

{#/pub/images/Christina_Haxton.jpg}Written by Christina Haxton, MA LMFT
Speaker, Author & Executive Coach, Sustainable Leadership, Inc.
Co-author, The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a leadership revolution one person at a time.  Christina assists entrepreneurs, managers and executives how to quickly build trust with their team and feel happier, highly successful and satisfied in their leadership role. Her clients learn how to use  neuroscience of emotional intelligence to make powerful team connections to become successful leaders, to achieve extraordinary peace of mind, begin to really love what they do again and have fun in the process!

 

Do you have a question for Christina?  Please visit our Senior Manager Community, she will be happy to help: Ask an Expert 

 

Did you find this story informative?  We would like the opportunity to keep you up to date on all of our training articles.  Please register for our newsletter so we can do just that.  

 

Here are some related articles you may be interested in:

4 Essential Skills for Leaders, Managers & High Potentials

Complacency in the Workplace

Work Efficiency Equation For Managers And High Performers

3 Communication Techniques To Lead Effective Conversations

Curiosity: Asking the Right Questions to Motivate, Manage & Lead

 

ManagingAmericans.com is a community of Business Professionals & Expert Consultants sharing knowledge, success tips and solutions to common job issues.  Our objective is to mentor and develop professionals to be better leaders, managers, team players and individual contributors. Ultimately, helping people succeed in their careers.  

Comments (4)

Roland posted on: June 15, 2013

Very impressive article Christina. Thank you.

Jennifer Nzonzo posted on: June 24, 2013

Wow, interesting indeed i liked the concept #5. Prioritize Prioritizing.

Cathy posted on: August 7, 2013

Great habits to adopt. Thanks for the article, Christina.

Charles posted on: May 11, 2014

Thank you for sharing this article!

Leave a comment

Not a robot?