In times of great uncertainty, it becomes all-too easy to separate average managers from truly exceptional leaders.
The need for more of the latter, at work and in our communities, is staggering when facing a world that’s been turned on its head. Some of the change we’re experiencing — read: the Black Lives Matter movement — is deeply needed and overdue. Some of it, especially where the pandemic is concerned, is forcing us to learn lessons and make unexpected discoveries about the kinds of lives we want to lead.
We have an opportunity ahead of us to create a better, fairer and more meaningful world. And it’ll take strong leadership, from ourselves and others, to get us there. Making a daily practice of certain habits and behaviors can help.
Below, here are 10 things that strong leaders make sure they do every day.
1. They make a point of learning something new daily.
Whether it’s through reading a book, listening to a podcast or watching the next episode in that docu-series, the strongest leaders make learning a constant priority. And, on the other side of this coin, they have no qualms in recognizing how much they have left to learn, too — in other words, strong leaders never believe that they’ve “already made it.”
2. They wake up early, and they stick to their morning routine.
Do some folks overdo this a little by believing they simply must wake up by 5 or even 4 a.m.? Definitely. There’s no set “wake-up time” to be a strong leader, but the best ones generally do wake up a little earlier than they strictly have to. It helps them prepare, have a moment to themselves, and generally start the day on an energized note. And they almost certainly have a favored morning routine.
3. They carve out time for bigger-picture thinking.
The strongest leaders don’t let themselves get saddled down or sidelined by the day-to-day minutiae. Sure, there are plenty of daily tasks that have to get done, and they do these, too. But the best leaders are intentional in also setting aside time strictly for focusing on the bigger picture.
4. They clearly communicate their expectations to others.
Plain and simple, strong leaders don’t leave room for conflicting understandings or confusion. They speak clearly and directly, they have a plan, and their team members don’t find themselves wondering if they’ve correctly interpreted something.
5. They prioritize their health.
It’s pretty impossible to be the best leader you can be if you aren’t also making time for your own health. That means exercising, getting enough sleep, being mindful of what you’re eating AND taking care of your mental health.
6. They hold themselves accountable.
Strong leaders don’t just have clear expectations for others. They also know where they themselves fit within those expectations, and they have the self-motivation to stick to (and personally exceed) those expectations.
7. They encourage their team.
Strong leaders know how to identify and play to their team members’ individual strengths, and they also make a habit of verbally praising those strengths. They express their confidence in their team members’ abilities regularly.
8. They proactively consider what their team needs to be successful.
Good leaders know how to intervene and address the problems that are standing in the way of their team’s success. Better leaders have the foresight to consider what those problems could be before they happen.
9. They set aside time for a passion that doesn’t have to do with their jobs.
If you live, eat and breathe your job, for the significant majority of people, it will inevitably lead to burnout. Strong leaders have passions that aren’t so directly tied to income, and because of that, it means that their leadership and the energy they bring to their work is sustainable.
10. They unplug.
The best leaders do this not only because it’s a necessary part of protecting their own health and preserving adequate time and space for other passions. It’s also an important part of role modeling what a healthy balance looks like to your team. As supportive as you try to be, if you’re consistently sending your team emails after working hours, it’ll send the opposite message. Strong leaders make a point of unplugging, and they encourage their team to do the same.