171: 4 Simple Habits of Effective Leaders | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
April 21, 2020   |   Episode #:

171: 4 Simple Habits of Effective Leaders

In This Episode:

We need more women in leadership. It’s about time that more women join the ranks of women-owned businesses and begin to own up to their greatness in corporate spaces. That’s why in this episode, I am sharing the four simple habits of effective leaders. It is my hope that this episode will inspire women and help them realize that being an effective leader is within their reach. You’ll hear about how to reframe your mindset (because you already have what it takes to be an effective leader!), and I’ll also share how you can set up your habits with intention. Plus, I’ll give you a few resources from my book, The Joy of Missing Out, and share some past episodes on building solid habits for you to check out.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea


Questions I Answer

  • What are good habits for leaders?
  • How do I create better habits?

Actions to Take

  • Think about the four key habits of effective leaders and the four steps of building solid and intentional habits. Take some time over the next few days to outline what you can do to become a more effective leader and use this framework to start incorporating those habits consistently into your routine.
  • If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of my book, The Joy of Missing Out, and read (or revisit) chapter 7 on establishing habits.

Key Topics in the Show

  • Reframing your mindset to believe you have what it takes to be an effective leader

  • How to set your habits with intention

  • Four simple habits of effective leaders

  • Four steps of solid, intentional habits

Resources and Links

Show Transcript

Hello. Hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tonya Dalton and this is episode 171. This season on leading with confidence is well underway and I have to tell you, I am pretty fired up about this. I truly believe we are on the brink of an explosion in the number of women who will step into leadership. And I’ve been having a lot of conversations with other female founders and CEOs and we’re starting to feel that electricity of change and I am so excited about it. I’m actually in several women owned networking groups and some of them are for women in these seven, eight, nine figure range. And the conversations we’ve been having have been pretty consistent. We need more women in leadership. We want more women to join the ranks of women owned businesses and owning up to your greatness in the corporate spaces. It’s time. Let’s be honest here, it’s beyond time. 

I actually just published an article on entrepreneur.com where I talked about the fact that men are three and a half times more likely to hit that seven-figure mark than women. Three and a half times, and only 2.2% of all venture capital goes to women owned businesses. 2.2% of all of it. If we want those figures to change, we need to lead the charge. We cannot sit back and wait for it to happen. We need to make it happen. Our time is now, and I know, I know that for some of you the idea of 

stepping into leadership feels like, oh it’s about damn time. And some of you might feel like I don’t know, it’s a little daunting and that‘s okay. I’m thinking back to our conversation we had last week in episode 170 when we talked about the importance of effective leadership and how to reframe the way that we look at ourselves. So, we can start believing that we already have the stuff it takes to become an effective leader in the world. 

And understandably reframing your mindset during something serious, like a pandemic. It can be a big challenge, which is why we’re going to continue to circle back to this topic of leadership all season long. And today I want to show you it doesn’t have to be hard to start leading. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Leadership is no different than anything else that we talk about here. It’s the small steps, the everyday steps, the continual ones that make the difference. We so often think it’s the big stuff, the giant leaps and the big shifts, but it’s not. And really, it’s those continual 

steps, and the way to really make those happen is through our habits. It turns out that the most successful and effective leaders have some fairly common and simple habits that they incorporate into various parts of their day

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So I thought today, let’s take a look at those. Let’s see how easy it would be for us to incorporate some of these habits in our own lives. Habits that will help us cultivate the effective leadership that we want so that we can continue to lead and inspire our teams. So before we do that, I want to back up just a bit and talk about what habits are and how they benefit us. Because you’ve heard me talk about habits before, and you might remember, I think our most recent episode where we really dove into the idea of habits was 153, where we talked about that habits are behaviors that are repeated regularly and they become almost second nature to us. I like to say they take the thinking out of it. You see, habits are what frees up our brain space and allows us to really focus on the parts of our day that matter most to us, which is why they’re so important because they happen automatically without us thinking about it. 

But when we set habits with intention, we can really make huge differences in our day. And no matter what we aspire to become, the different habits that we cultivate, that’s what help us get to where we want to go, no matter what it is. So for today, let’s focus in on some key habits with leadership. Can habits really help us become better, more effective leaders? Especially if you’ve not really considered yourself a leader in the first place. And my answer here is absolutely it can. The most successful and effective leaders have some of the simplest habits in common. Sol want to go through those today because I think you’re going to find it a little bit easier than you expected to get these habits into your regular everyday life. So I want to go through four key habits for effective leaders. 

And the first one is not going to be a shock at all. In fact, if you’ve been following with me since I first began the podcast or really at any point, you probably already know about this one, and what I’m talking about is the habit of writing down your goals. Whether you use a planner to keep yourself on track of your progress or something else altogether. The simple act of writing your goals down and checking in with them on a regular basis, that will help you maintain a vision in your mind of what you’re really working towards. And here’s the thing. If we really zoom out on this habit and we take a bigger look at it, we can understand why this habit is so key. We’d find that it’s really a daily routine of seeing the vision. Good leaders look at the bird’s eye view and they move their team together in that same forward direction. 

Right away we recognize that as a trademark of an effective leader, right? The best leaders are very clear on their purpose. So with the goals that they set, they communicate how to get everyone effectively moving towards it. The job of the leader isn’t to do each and every step along the way. Their job is to see the vision and articulate it through the goals. Goals have a way of taking the abstract vision and putting it into action. It allows everybody else on the team to know what steps we need to take together to get where we want to get to that ultimate vision, 

General Lori Robinson, who when she retired, was the highest-ranking female officer in the military. She put it this way, when she’s talking about how she commands, she says, “I will go up and out. I need them to go down and in.” So she was regularly looking at the big picture or the vision, right, and she put it into goals and then communicated it to everybody below her. That’s what she did to command others to know where it is we’re all going and what our objectives are. Setting your 

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goals is a way to make that happen, the small steps that get you there. So when we’re goal setting and we’re planning for success and we make that into a habit, we’re able to hit that vision much faster with purpose, which lessens the likelihood of getting 

e everyday hustle of life because we’re constantly zooming out, looking at the big picture and making a plan. It’s an easy habit to cultivate. 

All right, let’s go to number two. Do you know what goes hand in hand with that first habit? Habit number two, which is the best leaders have a habit of reflection, Now you’ve often heard me say that goal setting and planning can take a bit of fine tuning to really figure out exactly what works best for you, and this is largely where that habit of reflection comes in really helpful as a leader. Clarity is often seen as a trademark of an effective leader, but it’s the practice of reflecting that helps the leader develop that laser like focus. You see effective leaders, they don’t hesitate to check in with themselves and their goals regularly to make sure that they are feeling good and they’re actually going in the direction they want to go. I know that reflecting can sometimes be hard, especially if you feel like you’re off track and we get caught up in the negative and we get worried about what have I done wrong? 

But here’s the thing, when we take the time to reflect, it really helps us stay on track on a regular basis. That’s the benefit of regularly creating this habit of checking in because you’re not going to veer really, really far off path because you’re constantly checking in and you’re readjusting, you’re rerouting to get back to where it is you really want to go. That really makes a difference. So by taking the time to reflect, especially at the end of a work day, you can incorporate that as part of your end of the day routine. You’re going to be more likely to recognize when the direction you’re taking on a particular goal or project isn’t really panning out the way you imagined it would. And it happens and that’s okay. Sometimes things don’t work out the way that we thought they would or how we planned for them. That’s why this reflection is so important. If we create that as a habit, we can easily put ourselves on the fast track to recovering even when we drift the slightest bit off course, 

Sol do a reflection exercise every day, but I also do a bigger version of it every quarter and once a year I actually do a full two day reflection exercise. I just find that reflection is so good because it shows you the gaps, the spaces that you want to reinforce. It can show you the good that you can build your foundation on and it shows you the not so good, which is often even more powerful. It’s the springboard to get you to the vision and by regularly practicing reflection as a habit, strong leaders are able to see their strengths and their weaknesses. 

And that can really make a big difference because it actually leads me to habit number three of effective leaders. Something that I know has helped me grow as the leader of my own team, and that’s the habit of continually learning. Investing in yourself on a regular basis is key. It really is going to be the secret sauce that makes you into a strong leader. Now, this idea of continually learning, it can look like a lot of different things. It could be investing in a course, watching videos or Ted Talks related to your industry, attending conferences, meeting with a coach, and of course reading, one of my favorites. Every day, I do an hour long block after lunch that I call it my investment hour. Now, I might spend that time doing exercises for a course that I’m 

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taking or I might be listening to a podcast episode or even reading a chapter of a book. 

Reading for me is something that is both for business and for pleasure and why shouldn’t it be? I mean, here’s the truth. If we’re doing the things that truly bring us joy, if we’re creating a life for ourselves that is very purposeful and intentional, work and pleasure can be one in the same. If you enjoy what you do, the subjects that are related to your career or the things that are going to advance you in business, those will be enjoyable for you as well. And if we stop looking at it as like some sort of assignment and instead of looking at it as time to really invest in yourself, it makes a big difference. Successful leaders understand the importance of continually deepening their understanding related to their craft. 

So for many leaders in the world, if not all of them really establishing a habit of continually learning is one of the keys to building in the skills they need to lead others on their team or people in the same field as effectively as possible. So we’ve all heard that old adage about knowledge is power. That is what we’re talking about right here. Knowledge truly is power. Continually investing in yourself is what keeps leaders up to date and their skills sharp. So I want you to think about that. When is the last time that you truly invested in yourself? When is the last time that you took some time, very intentionally, carved out that space for an investment block? Because I can tell you that for me has truly made a huge difference. 

Okay. You know what? I want to talk about that fourth habit, but actually I’m realizing right now, this is the perfect segue to our mid episode break because I actually have a way for you to invest in yourself right now for free. 

You’ve heard me talking over the past few weeks about the fact that I’m offering a masterclass. It’s actually in response to what a lot of you have been asking me, right? You’ve been asking me a lot of questions and I thought I’m going to offer a masterclass, but when you think about it, this masterclass is an example of a way to 

continually learn, right. To sharpen your skills or maybe even create a brand new skillset to increase those numbers we talked about earlier in the show, those dismally low numbers of how many women owned businesses are truly thriving out there. Scaling with solid profits, creating strong revenue streams for their businesses and for their families. In my opinion, both are equally important. Business and family, we don’t really need to sacrifice one for the other. And that’s what I want to show you how to 

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This masterclass is truly in direct response to what you’ve been emailing me, asking me to do. Show you the framework that I use to grow my own business while growing my family. Your personal life doesn’t need to be non-existent for you to be a success. In fact, to be a success, you want both and it doesn’t mean you have to do more. So I would love for you to join me because I’ll be going live tomorrow sharing my secrets. Now I will have a replay available for a limited time. So if you miss showing up live, still sign up because you can get access to that replay. But if you do join the live, I’m going to make it a little more fun and I’ll make it worth your while. I 

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promise you. Just go to tonyadalton.com/masterclass. Let’s get you started on this habit of continually learning and sharpening your skills. 

Okay? I want you to go sign up. Go now. I mean like pause the podcast, go sign up and then come back and push play. I’ll wait. It’s okay. I don’t really want you to miss joining me on this because I really do think a lot of what I’m talking about is a key 

to really feeling good about creating a business or growing your business while still making sure your personal life is thriving as well. All right. 

Okay. Let’s dive in to our habit number four because while it’s a big one, it’s a really simple one, so let’s get into that, but before we do, I want to clear up one quick thing about leadership. When it comes to building yourself up to become an effective leader, it’s important that you remember that leadership is not really about you at all. Instead, it’s really about those people that you’re leading. It’s about the people you have working on your team right alongside of you, that you guys are all in pursuit of the same goal, the same destination, the same success. You probably have noticed how we’ve been touching on this idea with those first three habits. They’ve all been very connected, right? I’ve noticed that, but they’re also connected to this idea that it’s bigger than you. As a leader, it’s your job to improve people’s standards, to help them expand their capabilities and help them add more value to their lives and even the lives of the people that they touch by extension. 

I always say that if you are in a position of leadership and you are, if you have any say over anyone’s life, whether that’s people on your team, maybe your employees or even your kids, you have the ability to make their days amazing or make them terrible. That’s a lot of power we hold. Power that we often don’t even realize that we have. You can make your workplace a sanctuary that people get fired up to go to each day or you can make their lives a living hell. Honestly, it’s true. As the leader, you have that ability, so I want you to keep that in mind with this one last habit that I want to touch on. This one last simple habit that I want to encourage you to consider incorporating into your day and that is the habit of doing something good every day. Simple, right? I told you it was, but here’s the thing, we cannot be successful unless those on our team are successful too. That’s the truth. 

Ben Franklin understood this too, which is why he is said to have made the simple act of doing something good one of his daily habits. So to facilitate this, he has said to have used the book end method, which means every morning he would ask himself, “What good shall I do today?” And that’s probably how he said it too. “What good shall I do today?” And then he would go through his day and then during his evening routine he would follow up with the reflection question of, “What good have 1 done today?” You see how we’ve tied in a couple of things there. These other habits, they all really do work together. So when we focus just a little bit of our time on doing something good to help people around us. It doesn’t have to be something big. It could be something small, it doesn’t matter. But when we do that, we’re able to both lead and inspire our teams to greatness and that is really the point of leading others, isn’t it? 

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Effective leaders are not in it for themselves. They’re in it for themselves and for those around them as well. When our teams feel great about the work they’re doing, how they’re spending their time and the direction they’re heading in, they’re likely to feel more successful. And when our teams are more successful, whether it comes to the teams we have at work or the teams we have at home, we’re all successful. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it? So how do we adopt these habits into our existing routine and build yourself up to be a more effective leader? 

I want to talk about some strategy for building in those habits that we talked about earlier, just really quickly. If you’ve read The Joy of Missing Out, my book, you know that I go fully in depth with how to establish habits in Chapter Seven. And yes, even how to break them. And I go through the four steps to setting up solid, intentional habits. So I want to just go over them really quickly because you can go deeper in the book, but I want to apply the habits that we just talked about to those four steps for creating those habits. So I’m just going to go over really quickly. 

So you probably remember step one in the process is to articulate the habit. Ask yourself why? Anytime we start something new, let’s start with that foundation of why. That‘s the key to getting our habits to stick. Why are you doing it? What kind of leader do you want to be? That’s tied to this idea, right? Who do we want to be? So that‘s first step. 

Second step is identify the cues. What are the triggers that tell our brain it’s time to start up that habit? So let’s talk about that first habit that we talked about today as our example here. Let’s say you want to start making planning a daily habit for you. So how does that work with our cues? Well, one thing you might do to set up that trigger to remind you to sit down and plan your day is to put your planner in a spot where it’s easily visible and accessible to you. So let’s say you’re a coffee drinker. Maybe this means you place your planner next to your coffee pot so you can sit down and map out a course of action while you’re indulging in that first cup of the day. Right. That sounds pretty nice. Okay, so that’s just one example of how you could use 

a cue. 

Let’s move on to the third step, which is defining the behavior. What are the actual actions you want to have happen? You know, if it’s, let’s say that third habit of investing in yourself and continually learning, what does that look like? We really want to define what the behavior is. Is it reading? Is it regularly listening to certain podcasts, like Productivity Paradox? Or what does that look like? You really need to define it. That way, it actually happens. Instead of you saying, well, I‘m not really sure what to do, let’s take some time and figure out what that habit looks like and then we can implement it. 

Which leads me to our final step, which is make a plan. We often get caught up when it comes to the idea of creating new habits because we fall into the false mindset that habits should be easy. I mean they are habits after all. So we should quickly be able to take on these habits, but that’s not really true. Habits, like all great things in life take both time and dedication before they’ll really stick. So persistence is key here and one of the ways you can make a plan is by tracking your habits. In the 

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book I mentioned, what gets written gets measured and what gets measured gets achieved. So you could use something like a habit tracker as you start to build in some of these habits into your routines, that helps hold you accountable for the progress. And that’s really what’s crucial. If we want to become a successful leader, we need to hold ourselves accountable for doing the work that that requires. 

In my experience, the more I track my progress of any habit that I want to cultivate, the easier it becomes to follow through on my plans and having some rewards in those plans, yeah, that definitely helps too. So I would recommend giving Chapter Seven a quick reread if you feel like you need help getting some of these habits to stick, or you could even listen to episode 153 where I do a laser coaching conversation with one of my Live Well Method alumni who needs help getting her habits to stick. Both of those would be a great resource for you. 

As we close out this episode, what I want you to keep in mind as you move forward into your day and on your journey towards leading with more confidence is this, being a leader is about consistently growing. It’s about development. While some of that growth is long-term and it encompasses the big picture stuff, a lot of the most impactful changes that we experience can come from adopting very small, very simple and very positive habits. Habits that happen every day, no matter where you are, who you are or what you’re doing, okay? It doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by implementing a few of these habits right now and that will be a start of stepping into leadership even more. And if you’re already feeling confident as a leader, consider how can lincorporate these habits more into my day? Or how can I expand on them to make me even more effective? As a leader, we’re constantly changing, we’re constantly growing, we’re constantly evolving and that’s what makes you strong. 

All right, next week we are going to continue these conversations about leadership with talking about how we can prioritize at work because I know that can sometimes be a struggle. And I want to remind you if you have not signed up for that live masterclass that‘s happening tomorrow, sign up now. Just go to tonyadalton.com/masterclass. I can tell you we’re going to have a lot of fun. I’m going to pull back the curtain on a lot of things that I’m doing and I think you’re really going to find it very, very helpful, especially if you’re thinking to yourself, you know what? || want to continually learn, I want to invest in myself. I want to invest in my business. I want to see it grow. Or maybe you’re even thinking to yourself, I don’t own a business, but I think I want to. I don’t like some of the uncertainty that‘s going on in the world. I want to have some ownership in what I’m creating and the impact I’m making. This will be the masterclass for you, so I hope to see you there. 

All right, and till next time, have a beautiful and productive week. 


**This transcript was created using AI.

Tanya Dalton is a woman who is passionate about productivity. She is considered one of the best inspirational and motivational female keynote speakers. She gives talks on time management, finding balance, purpose and goal setting