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4 work habits of a high-flying CEO

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, applies certain rules to each work­­day. He attributes his success largely to his ability to follow these rules to operate more productively, gain insight and make smarter decisions.

Here are Anderson’s four rules for success:

1. Guard against distractions. Part of any leader’s job is deciding which issues to think about and which ones to delegate or disregard. Micromanagers exhaust themselves by wasting time on too many minor matters.

Anderson is a big fan of saying no. He’s especially attuned to declining invitations to meetings. He wants his 80,000 employees to take the initiative to make intelligent decisions on their own.

His willingness to say no also reinforces the importance of focus. As Steve Jobs said, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.”

2. Stay on top of email. Time management experts often say, “Don’t touch paper twice.” The same tip applies to email.

Anderson, 59, often has only a dozen emails in his inbox at any one time. That’s because he responds quickly and decisively to inquiries without procrastinating. His fast action prevents him from wasting time dreading certain topics or delaying a decision.

3. Invest time to prepare. Anderson respects others’ time. Before arriving at meetings, he has read relevant materials so that he can keep things moving.

4. Drink in knowledge. As part of his commitment to continuous learning, Anderson sets aside an hour or more every day to read. He often begins his day with quiet reading time.

—Adapted from “Tips for Success from Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson,” JL Johnson, www.airlinereporter.com.

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