Great leaders, regardless of industry, have many similar traits. Likewise, many leaders share a number of the same “good” habits that help them achieve success in their given fields. Try incorporating some of these healthy habits into your routine. Maybe they can help you become more effective and efficient in your occupation.
The best leaders know that reading every day helps them do their job to the best of their abilities. For me, I do most of my work-related content reading first thing in the morning for at least an hour when I first wake up at 6 am. I check out the most up to date news related to my industry, healthcare and life sciences investment, while also reading about trends, market reports and the latest scientific and technical innovations. Aside from work reading, nonfiction can allow people to learn from other leaders and take pieces of their wisdom while avoiding their missteps. Taking lessons from leaders from different times and different industries can create great insights into your current situation. Fiction books can provide insights we may not have thought about, or even just allow us a relaxing respite from work. Reading allows you to step outside of your own perspective, which can help people think about problems from multiple points of view. This can help aid in creative problem solving.
A healthy leader is more likely to be an effective leader. Easier said than done at times, especially when stress and demands on time can lead to bad habits. We all know that if you are low on sleep, eating unhealthy foods, and not working out, you will have a harder time focusing and getting your work done. I am the first to admit that pizza on a Friday after a long week sounds pretty good. Everything in moderation, but try to shun the quick fixes of sugar and alcohol for longer term benefits of fresh and healthy food and some exercise — even when it seems like the last thing you want to do! In addition, good mental health is also a key to success. Everyone has stress in their lives — work-related, or possibly at home. How we cope with that stress is the key to our physical and mental well being. As someone who normally “bottles it up”, finding ways to talk to people close to me about my concerns, or taking some quiet time for self reflection has been invaluable to my own mental well being.
For some of us, there is that push to work until there is nothing left to do each day, or at least work longer than our colleagues, as if it is some sort of competition. Although this practice can work for some, and there is no substitute for hard work, oftentimes, more work does not translate to efficient or effective work. Long hours and weekends can also lead to some unhealthy lifestyle habits, contributing to stress and putting a strain on personal relationships. Setting boundaries by sticking to specific weekly work hours, or blocking off time during the day or on weekends to spend time exercising or with the family can be beneficial for most leaders. If you do prefer to work until your to-do list is complete, try instead listing out ten necessary tasks that morning and completing only that list. That way, if you are done early, you can work a little ahead. If you are not done, you can finish up the list and then be done.
Finding creative outlets can help leaders unlock parts of their brain that are not utilized frequently throughout the day, and when activated, lead to new insights and ideas for challenges at work. Physically creating a piece of art is similar to reading books by letting your brain leave its normal state and view things from another perspective. However, if you are like me, the extent of your artistic skills consists of stick figures. Similarly, I can’t carry a tune, so singing or playing music is not a viable creative outlet for me, but certainly is for other leaders, with many notable Fortune 500 CEOs playing instruments. Personally, I find my creative outlet and expression in cooking. I tend not to follow recipes, but watch Food Network shows and then come up with my own culinary creations. My kids cook alongside me, so I get quality family time, healthy food, and the creative part of my brain stimulated. Whatever your form of creative expression, it can also help you release stress or emotions that you are experiencing.
Incorporating these habits into your daily life can help you stay focused and maximize your potential as an effective leader. Worst-case scenario, it helps you be more well rounded and have a better work-life balance… and that is never a bad thing.