Our schedules can become so full and hectic that it often feels like we’re running from one meeting or presentation to the next. “We don’t really take the time to make sure that every time we do perform, we’re prepared to make it really count,” says Andrew Sykes, the CEO and Founder of Habits at Work, a corporate training company based in Chicago.

“In the world of professional sports, the ratio of practice to performance goes up the better you get. But in the world of work, the more experience you have, the less you tend to prepare,” Sykes highlights. Leaders and the organizations they run pay a price for that.

There are three key habits managers can develop to help them become exceptional leaders who support engaged and thriving employees:

Planning and prioritizing.

If you’re busy doing the wrong activities, it can weigh you down emotionally and hurt your business. Sykes points out that as humans, we’re drawn to working on what’s urgent instead of concentrating on the things that are most important. When we take a reactive approach like this, letting what’s in front of us dictate our actions, we end up wandering.

Sykes describes a system his company developed called “The Daily Do’s.” This is a focus on one thing each day that will make the greatest impact on business results, two things you’re likely to complete, and three things you might do. This system ensures you focus on the right projects, and spend time on those things first when your energy is high.

At E3 Solutions, we talk with our clients about the value of starting each day with intention. This gives us a mental framework to achieve the most important and impactful work. To help your employees set an intention, consider starting the day with a quick, 10-minute huddle to ask what’s at the top of their to-do lists. This not only sets a proactive mindset, it also creates a level of accountability because employees have committed to, in front of their peers and supervisor, what they hope to accomplish.

Learning how to say “no” is another critical component of planning and prioritizing. Saying “yes” even when we know the work doesn’t fit into our schedule pulls us into doing the wrong things and causes priorities to slide out of order.

Practicing self-care.

The average U.S. employee comes to work each day in less than full mental health. Many employees cite work as the reason they’re stressed out, they don’t exercise, and they don’t feel like they have financial security. If employees are showing up anxious or worried, it drains their metabolic resources needed for quality performance. Despite knowing this, most companies still don’t have programs or policies in place to support employee well-being.

Practicing self-care helps employees and leaders alike show up to work in their best shape with a sense of calm and clarity. When employees are operating like this, organizations see greater levels of productivity, engagement, and customer success. As a leader, it’s vital to have conversations and resources in place that foster a healthy work environment emotionally, physically, and financially.

Running effective meetings.

Many of us spend more time in meetings than we do with our own families. Despite the time poured into meetings, there are still many reports of unproductive time spent with no results. This is almost always a result of poor planning and fortunately, can be remedied without having to spend much time or energy.

First, leaders and participants can’t simply show up to meetings. Before gathering, leaders should identify a clear purpose and benefit, set or collect agenda items, and distribute any relevant materials. During the meeting, all participants should be held accountable to ground rules (no phones, no interrupting, etc.) and keeping the conversation relevant and on track. Encourage participation by validating all contributions and politely check in with anyone who has seemed quiet or disengaged. At the close of the meeting, rather than abruptly ending or rushing off to the next calendar appointment, save 5-10 minutes to summarize what was discussed, agree on next steps, and determine what each person will do by when and how.

Sykes reminds us, “Effective meetings are the places in which cooperation is fostered and progress is made in business.”

With these three key habits, leaders can show up prepared to perform and make the most of each workday. This not only elevates their own leadership status, but creates more success for employees and the organization overall.

Key Takeaways:

  • We often let feeling busy serve as an excuse to not prepare for our day, but this leads to a lack of results and progress at work.
  • When leaders take time to prepare themselves for the day and become more intentional with their time, they can maximize their impact.
  • By making well-being a priority, you create the conditions where employees can thrive emotionally, physically, and financially.  

Referenced resources:

3 Habits to Become a Magnetic Leader With Special Guest Andrew Sykes, Thrive By Design the Podcast, E3 Solutions.

Habits at Work, HabitsAtWork.com.

The 11th Habits: Design Your Company Culture to Foster the Habits of High Performance, Andrew Sykes and Hanlie Van Wyk, Habits at Work.

Are you looking for more strategies for running meetings efficiently? Whether leading meetings is new to you or you are looking for a fresh approach, our Leading Effective Meetings Workshop offers a wide range of techniques and practical advice on how to run more productive meetings. We’ll help you save time and money with fewer meetings of shorter duration where more work is accomplished.