The Key to Leadership Success – Develop Through Practice
Laura R. Novakowski, MBA, RN
President, Positive Power Strategies, Inc.
“Practice makes perfect.”
How does one become successful in leadership? In the same way any high performing athlete or musician, they practice!
Over the course of the years, I have met with many wonderful, successful people. In reviewing their track records, it has become apparent to me that although their methods for practicing their craft as leaders were different, in each and every instance they practiced.
Here are best practice tips leaders to be use to be successful:
- Generate a clear vision of the leader you want to be. Reflect on those leaders in your life that stand out. Describe and define those attributes that made or make them successful in your mind. Then, decide what you need to do to get that level of leadership that you desire.
- Write down your plan and goals. Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but experience bears out that when a plan is set in writing with clearly defined goals we are much more likely to stay focused. Writing down the plan and goals for many successful leaders is an active action step towards achieving their objectives. Helps to maintain focus.
- Embrace your strengths. All too often we launch into looking at all of those problems, issues, and weaknesses that will prevent us from being successful. When asked about themselves, studies show that most people will tell you what they are NOT good at. Subsequently, they don’t focus on what they ARE good at. When we focus on using our strengths in helping to practice our craft, our new role, our new responsibility, we are much more likely to accomplish what we set out to do. Keep in mind, leaders are picked for their strengths. Leaders stay in powerful roles because they take those strengths to the next level.
- Treat your weaknesses as opportunities to grow. Seems like a simple concept, yet time and time again. We often allow our weaknesses, consciously or subconsciously to hold us back. Rather than treating the weakness as a limiting factor, consider making a small mental shift to make adjustments in those actions and behaviors that quite honestly need to be refined.
- Be accountable and measure progress. Successful leaders end the day, the week, the month, the year, by measuring progress. They hold themselves accountable for all results. The positive and the negative. Consistent monitoring helps to capture even the smallest progress. This often serves as a motivator when the real target seems to be in the distant future. On the hand, sometimes the objective isn’t the right one. With constant accountability and matrices, timely and often cost saving measures can be taken.
Although, practice may never make perfect, it most definitely will help. Consider practicing those skills that lead to success.
Practice the Two Headed Dragon
Leanne Hoagland-Smith, Chief Results Officer,
The word practice means to become proficient so that one’s actions are almost a conditioned response, a habit. And even though being proficient is a good thing, having habits may restrict individual potential to go beyond what is the norm.
When looking at the human body, much of the behavior is automatic pilot through sub conscious habits that evolved from practice. The human brain is a crafty little guy or gal wanting to conserve as much energy for those still hot wired primitive flight or fight responses. Practice and habits support conserving energy as demonstrated through simple routines.
Most individuals have established morning routines that vary little over time. Make the coffee, read the newspaper, get ready, unplug the coffee pot and lock the door. Then one little change in that routine may have the person asking himself or herself, “Did I lock the door when I left this morning?”
Being proficient through practice is critical especially when it comes to maximizing time. The more one can streamline activities and improve performance allows more to be done in the same time period with greater quality. Fewer mistakes are made thus avoiding costly “redos.”
On the flip side or the other dragon’s head, this automatic pilot behavior interferes with critical thinking because the conditioned response in many cases is to think and do like one has always thought and done. What may result are people always seeing the same landscape with the same eyes or lenses. Stagnant to reactive thinking in many cases is more reflective of practiced habits of thought than lacking the skills to think proactively.
For years, one of the accepted adages was “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This belief is rooted in practice and habit. Additionally, this adage restrained individuals from breaking their current habit of thinking to thinking using unpracticed thoughts.
Practice indeed is the two headed dragon. By being self aware through reflection one can keep both dragons at bay and continue to become the better leader where practice spawns creativity, innovation and critical thinking.
Judy Rienzi, President
Health Promotions Associates
In every moment of our daily existence, we make an endless amount of choices both consciously and unconsciously. Everything that happens to us is a result of the choices we make even though we may think they are not a choice. How we react to stress, to what people say to us, to our job, are all a matter of choice.
In the book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” Deepak Chopra points out that “Our reactions seem to be automatically triggered by people and circumstances, and we forget that these are still choices that we are making in every moment of our existence.” He asks us to step back and empower ourselves by witnessing the choices we make so that we take the process of choice from the unconscious and bring it to consciousness.
You can practice this process by asking yourself two questions.
- “What are the consequences of this choice that I am making?”
- “Will this choice that I am making now bring happiness to me and to those around me?”
Naturally, if you answer yes to these questions you will go ahead with the choice you are making. Another way of determining if the choice is correct is to listen to your body. Do you remember a time when you were talking yourself into something because it sounded like a great idea but your body was responding negatively? In other words, you felt discomfort within yourself. Your body was sending you a message that this is not a good idea.
Deepak goes on to explain there is only one right choice in that moment that will create happiness for you. Making that choice results in a form of behavior called “spontaneous right action”; the right choice at the right moment. Practicing the process of conscious choice with the two questions above, and listening to your body’s intuition can help you make choices that nourish you and everyone who is influenced by that choice.
Why Practice Paying Attention?
by Laura Canter – Psychologist,
Today I was thinking of a famous line from one of George Carlin’s acts: “I’ve been uplinked and downloaded. I’ve been inputted and outsourced. I know the upside of downsizing; I know the downside of upgrading. I’m a high-tech lowlife. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bicoastal mutlitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond.”
This led me to think: how good are you at multi-tasking? In this day and age, we multi-task everything: family & work. Funny enough, despite having the wonderful technology to help us ‘save time’ – we are busier now than we have ever been in the past. But, here comes the problem, even though we are capable of doing many tasks at one time, we fail to excel at all of the tasks. We have a limited capacity to access all of our available resources to make sure we are excelling or just completing a task for success.
This semester I’ve been teaching a Motor Control course in the department of Kinesiology at a local university. One of the lessons we’ve learned this year is preparation for and performance of specific skills and tasks are influenced by our limited capacity to select and attend to information. The theories of Motor Control are true, not just for high performing athletes, but also high performing leaders in the workplace. Are we actively engaged with and actively listening to what is going on in the moment? Or are we thinking of our own to-do list or our own agenda?
Nobel laureate & Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, Daniel Kahneman, proposed Attention Theory in 1973. It states, “the amount of available attention we can have varies depending on certain conditions related to the individual, the tasks being performed and the situation.” Now, consider for a moment the Action Effect Hypothesis. This hypothesis proposes that actions are best planned and controlled by their intended efforts.
What does this mean? Well, learning and performing of skills are optimized when our attention is directed to the intended outcome of the action, rather than on the movements themselves.
Famous ballerina Suzanne Farrell emphasizes that dancers need to concentrate on the effect they want to create with their movements rather than on the movements themselves. This will make them successful ballerinas and have amazing flawless performances.
So, if a leader in the workplace wants to improve their performance, they need to consider the intended outcome first, then, their actions are best planned and controlled by their intended efforts. When it comes to having successful performance outcomes, practice does make perfect.
Once we have learned and committed a skill to memory, we have a sense of automaticity – the ability to implement knowledge and procedures with little or no demand on attention capacity. Determine what kind of leader you wish to be; practice, and eventually it will be second nature to your overall performance.