Becoming a better leader is something that takes consistent and practiced traits. Great leaders don’t rise to their position by demanding respect, but earning it. By practicing habits that earn respect and that increase our leadership abilities, we can intensify our effectiveness.
Here are four things which you can begin your days with, that will intensify your effectiveness.
1. Check your attitude
Some of our most important leaders in American history have been known by their attitudes towards people, relationships, moral values, etc. As a leader, one of the first things you need to do with your day is focus your attitude.
Steve Jobs, best known for his immense impact at Apple, said that every morning he would ask himself, “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?” If the answer was “no” for too many days, he knew that something needed to change.
Checking your attitude, and focusing your mind on why you do what you do will have a huge impact on your desire and motivation to keep going.
Benjamin Franklin’s morning routine was similar, because he began everyday with the question, “what good shall I do this day?”
Ask questions that help you to focus your attention on the day ahead, with an attitude of goodness, and the desire to help. This will center your focus, and give you an attitude that will motivate you to do good work, and do it well.
2. Organize Your To Do’s
The best thing that you can do for yourself as you start out your day is to organize and prioritize your to do’s. Every day, there are fires that need to be put out immediately, and things that could essentially be put off till tomorrow. Understanding that you have limited time in your day, makes your prioritize and attend to key factors.
Another thing you should understand is that your brain is great for having ideas, but not so much for keeping them. Your memories of what you have to do will get swept away by the hustle and bustle of your work. Don’t rely on brain power alone.
As soon as I think of something important that I need to do, I write it down. Writing down your to do’s will keep you organized and on task. From there, mark them in order of importance and work from most important to least.
For my web marketing, I use the software Ignitur. The project management “TASKS” tab is built in with the web marketing that I’m doing. If I’m working on setting up a PPC campaign for a client, the tasks are organized for me. Some are one time only, and others are once a week, for maintenance and performance enhancement. Of course, I can add or delete according to my needs. The system is flexible.
Ignitur is also great for leaders, because you can be in charge of multiple clients, (web marketing firms) and multiple teammates can work on one or more projects. With Ignitur, I don’t have to rely on my email. The system is built with sharing and notes, to keep everyone on my team informed.
3. Start with your biggest problem First
Have you heard of a tomorrow list? A Tomorrow list is a list you make at the end of each day, prioritizing what you would like to accomplish in the next. An article on fastcompany notes that Kenneth Chenault of American Express creates a similar tomorrow list every night before leaving his office.
The beauty of a tomorrow list is in understanding how your body functions. Scientists are always looking to increase knowledge of how our bodies work and tick, and they’ve done a lot of research on willpower. Some of their experiments show that human have a limited amount of willpower.
Think about it, you’ve just gotten a recharge from sleep, so your willpower is at full capacity at the beginning of your day. Your morning is a prime time for you to tackle your top priorities.
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The quote above by Mark Twain is a very popular one. And the message resonated with so many, that today there is a productivity book called Eat that Frog. Because of your limited willpower, it is important that you prioritize your frogs, and take care of the hardest and biggest one first. Go ahead, eat it!
4. Listen Well
Listening well is a must for effective leaders. If you ever feel that you are disconnected from your work, or clients, it may be because you have not taken the time to hear them out.
Some argue that email checking is the worst way to start your day, because you automatically go into a responsive mode, verses directed personal action. In order to be a leader, you need to prioritize your to do’s, and not the to do’s of others. However, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to respond and listen at some point.
Order your inbox, and the time of day at which you check it. Make sure that you respond and are actively considering the needs and concerns of your team.
Understand that it is your job, as a leader, to listen to the needs and problems of your team. A leader that listens well, helps to create an atmosphere of trust and sincerity. Creating opportunities for your team to speak and address concerns in meetings is necessary.
However, meetings have a bad reputation, amongst employees, for being aimless. In order to fix this, make sure that you have a specific schedule, and stick to it. Have a time limit for everything, (including concerns from team) and be sensitive to tangents.
It is important that as a leader, you understand how important it is to listen well. President Woodrow Wilson said that, “the ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” Keeping attentive to those below you will improve your footing as one who stands above.
What Good Shall You Do?
Work has gotten a bad reputation. Even the word, work, is known as a troublesome thing. The reality is that work is necessary and pleasing to humans. We are natural creators, artists, planters, and builders. Doing good work is a pleasure.
So, it’s the beginning of your day, and you have plenty to do. Being an effective leader means that you manage your team, and the time in your day in the best way possible. Set your mind to some of these tactics, do the work, and do it well.