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Friday, January 23, 2015

Five Routines for Growing Leaders

There is comfort in rituals, and rituals provide a framework for stability when you are trying to find answers. – Deborah Norville

I came across a fascinating article in Business Insider ( about the daily routines of 16 famous creative people. The article featured the likes of Ludwig van Beethoven, Thomas Mann, Sigmund Freud, Maya Angelou, and Victor Hugo to name a few.

What were some of the more peculiar routines? Beethoven’s day began with breakfast which consisted of coffee which he prepared himself. He determined that there should be 60 beans per cup, and he often counted them out one by one for a precise dose.

Victor Hugo would start the day by taking a public ice bath. Charles Darwin’s focused work would be interrupted by occasional trips to the snuff jar. Honore´ de Balzac would spend a large majority of his day writing with the help of upwards to 50 cups of black coffee.

Insights into the routines of these creative people prompted me to think about the necessary disciplines for growing leaders. Your growth as a leader is not a passive and disengaged process. Not if you want to grow.

Over the years I have found routines that have worked for me. It has little to do with whether you are a morning person or a night person, a social butterfly or prefer to be alone. What is the tipping point? The disciplines you develop today will determine the type of leader you will be tomorrow. Here are five routines – leadership vitamins if you will, that will help you grow into a healthy leader.

The routine of reading
Leaders are readers. Fortunately, I come from a long line of readers and writers. It was in those formative years, and despite my struggles with dyslexia, where I formed a love for reading that stuck. If you want to grow as a leader there is no better way or place to start than with a good book. When reading is a priority then your leadership growth will be automatic.

The routine of listening
The older I get the more I realize just how much I don’t know. I’ve discovered that there is no better way to learn than to be an engaged and active listener. In many circles you will find active and engaged talkers, and there is a time and a place to talk, but for the leader who wants to grow, he or she will listen more and talk less.

The routine of reflection
Growing leaders take the time to reflect. Through the course of each day you come across dozens of people, make important decisions, and often it’s done on the spur of the moment. Reflection time affords you the chance to measure your progress. Don’t know where to start? At the end of the day try answering these questions: Where did I add value today? How was my attitude? Who needs my encouragement? Etc…  Reflection can also include prayer and meditation to replenish the soul.

The routine of exercise
I’ve touched on this before but it’s worth repeating. Healthy leaders are productive leaders. Exercise should be an integral part of your daily agenda as a leader. It’s good for your body and mind and it gets your creative juices flowing. Include in this routine healthier eating habits. A proper diet and exercise are the fuels you need to grow as a leader.

The routine of staying connected
Growing leaders are connected leaders. It’s through the growth and development of your personal and professional relationships that you mature. Being connected gives you a sense of community but it also runs deeper. It's when you are able to let your guard down, take your mask off and be vulnerable, that you can truly see growth as a leader. Are you a detached leader? If so, then get connected- your growth depends on it.

What are you your leadership routines?

© 2015 Doug Dickerson

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