Research shows that leaders who develop sound behaviors—and turn them into daily habits—make smart decisions more quickly.
Their habits help them follow a disciplined process for analyzing situations and producing successful outcomes.
Here are three habits that successful leaders often exhibit:
1. Knowing when to turn away opportunities. Saying no is a useful habit for executives who believe in a clear vision. It allows them to adhere to an organization’s stated principles despite temptations that might lead them astray.
Some leaders go out of their way to list what their organization will not do. The family that founded In-N-Out Burger, a fast-food chain, maintained limited menu offerings for 60 years.
Even though competitors kept expanding their menus, In-N-Out concluded that to ensure quality it had to stick with a few items.
2. Balancing short- and long-term. If you chase short-term goals at the expense of the long term, you can lose sight of the big picture.
That’s why racing to attain monthly or quarterly numbers without pursuing longer-range objectives can destabilize a company.
At In-N-Out Burger, executives measure their success on the consistency of product quality.
3. Controlling what you can control. Leaders aren’t micromanagers; they set a clear direction and communicate why that direction makes sense.
Trainees at In-N-Out Burger learn to operate the equipment, for example, but their managers don’t require them to follow scripts when interacting with customers. The firm’s leaders control the training process so that employees know the technical aspects of the job, but they also trust team members to use their judgment in how they relate to the public.
— Adapted from Get Lucky, Thor Muller and Lane Becker, Jossey-Bass.