Brief

Replace old habits of relentless work, thinking you know more than others, relying on your authority and avoiding risk with new habits of reflection, collaboration, shared power and experimentation, writes leadership development CEO Dede Henley. “To keep up and stay competitive in a rapidly changing, ever-more-complex world, businesses need to change how they operate, and that means leaders must adapt their own behaviors as well,” she writes.

 

Insight

Odds are, you’ve tried to quit smoking or to start working out in a more disciplined way. The New Year often brings with it resolutions — code for habits you are trying to change. But by February, those resolutions are forgotten, and you are back to your old habits again. This is true for leadership habits, too.

At work, habits drive how you formulate strategy, design workflows, structure your organization and engage with others day-to-day. Your habits determine who you rely on for ideas and advice. And when these habits produce positive results, you’re rewarded for them, and they’re reinforced without you even thinking about them. In other words, success hardwires these habits into your brain.

In a way, habits are like shortcuts. And that makes them very efficient. The problem is, when everything else is changing around you, there’s a good chance that these old habits no longer apply.

The old habits

To keep up and stay competitive in a rapidly changing, ever-more-complex world, businesses need to change how they operate, and that means leaders must adapt their own behaviors as well. Most leaders and managers are aware of this. And yet many of them are still being guided by habits they formed early in their careers. These old habits unconsciously drive the way they lead in five areas:

  • Where they place their attention — working heads-down
  • How they engage with others — acting like the authority
  • How they think — assuming to know more than others
  • How they make decisions and take action — playing it safe
  • The importance they place on fulfillment in the organization — sacrificing well-being
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