The Leader Habit: Master the Skills You Need to Lead--In Just Minutes a Day
July 09, 2018
Martin Lanik helps us unlock our leadership capabilities with the power of practice and science of habit.
Leadership seems like it just comes naturally to some people, but it can become natural to anyone. That is because we human beings are creatures of habit.
Charles Duhigg's great book on The Power of Habit explored the science behind how habits form so that we could use that knowledge to change habits that hinder or shorten our lives, and form new habits that improve our lives. Martin Lanik, CEO of Pinsight®, understands that power of habit, and uses it to help us improve our leadership skills. His new book, The Leader Habit, is basically The Power of Habit manual for leadership. With a doctoral degree in industrial/organizational psychology and over a decade's worth of experience putting that knowledge to work in real-world leadership development, he is the perfect person to write it. And because he makes a living teaching it to others, he has already distilled it into a simple method:
The method is simple: you identify a leadership skill you want to master, such as active listening, then you practice that skill through a short, focused exercise every day until it becomes a habit.
Lanik describes twenty-two such leadership skills (both task and people oriented, and made up of seventy-nine micro-behaviors), and a formula for developing them in daily, five-minute exercises. John Bargh, a social psychologist who formed the Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation, and Evaluation (ACME) Laboratory at Yale, once wrote: "It’s difficult for people to accept, but most of a person’s everyday life is determined not by their conscious intentions and deliberate choices, but by mental processes put into motion by the environment." While true, if you understand how habits are formed and how to develop new ones (especially keystone habits, which lead to the development of multiple good habits at the same time), you can make a conscious and deliberate choice to shape those mental processes that determine your everyday life and behavior. Making a deliberate, sustained effort to spend just five minutes of daily practice, in different settings and with different people, on any of those twenty-two leadership skills can turn good leadership into a habit—meaning you can make it come naturally to you, because it will be put into motion by any environment you find yourself in.
It doesn't matter what it is you do in life, at some point your ability to succeed will be determined by your ability to lead. As Lanik writes:
Whether you are coaching a junior baseball league, leading a church group, raising a family, building a start-up, managing a team in an established business, or running a multibillion-dollar global company, being an effective leader makes it easier to achieve your goals.
And not just your goals, but the goals of whatever organization you are leading, and the goals of the people within it. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader once said: “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” One of the great things about The Leader Habit is that it provides a formula that, in addition to helping you build and exercise your own leadership, can be used to help develop leadership skills in others, and in the organization—any organization—as a whole.
We have 20 copies available.