• MGMT Playbook
  • Posts
  • How To Build The Leadership Habits That Lead To Great Teams

How To Build The Leadership Habits That Lead To Great Teams

Plus how to pick the right habit for your most painful leadership challenges

Can your team call their shot like Babe Ruth?

Read Time: 4 minutes

To make our goals a reality, we need to change our behavior.

And change, as we know, is hard.

Especially when 45% of our daily behaviors are habits, small actions that barely trigger a conscious thought.

Ideally, we'd hack our subconscious and drop in the new habits.

But how?

James Clear's Atomic Habits is about as close to the definitive source as possible on these practical measures.

For example, if you want to build a new habit, you need to understand the cycle of a habit.

From James Clear’s Atomic Habits

Once we understand the habit loop, the path presents itself. 

We need to optimize for 4 key questions:

  1. Cue - How can I make it obvious?

  2. Craving - How can I make it attractive?

  3. Response - How can I make it easy?

  4. Reward - How can I make it satisfying?

So let’s use this knowledge and pick the optimal leadership habit to build.

Let’s Build Those Habits Together

The internet is filled with leadership theory and advice. And yet, most leaders are still overwhelmed while their teams underdeliver.

Why is that?

Because you don’t need advice, you need action. You need accountability. You need to stop making your own mistakes and start learning from others.

That’s what we offer in the MGMT Accelerator. And that’s why leaders say it’s worth 24x what their employers paid.

Where else can you get that type of return in only 12 hours of work?

Will you join us on February 6th?

The right habit for the right moment

If habits are hard to build, we must make them as simple as possible and pick the right one to meet our management needs.

Here’s some inspiration based on common challenges.

My team is not improving fast enough

Habit: Daily Feedback

Feedback doesn't have to be critical. Calling out the winning behaviors you want repeated counts, too. If this is initially uncomfortable, start with the question, "Did this meet your expectations?"

Your people will often be their biggest critics, allowing you to be their coach. 

My team delivers low-quality work

Habit: Daily Metrics

I firmly believe that everyone needs a number. This helps them connect to the mission and know if they're winning. If they have a number and quality still needs to improve, reignite motivation by making the scoreboard public. Peer pressure is a potent form of accountability. 

My team is missing deadlines

Habit: Weekly Called Shots

A stupid simple practice I use with all my teams:

On Monday AM: Send me 3-5 bullets on what you'll accomplish this week.

On Friday PM: Send me hit or miss on those bullets (and if you missed, a brief explanation of why).

Writing out your commitments will force them to visualize what it takes to accomplish. And knowing they'll need to grade themselves creates personal accountability. 

My team has low morale

Habit: Weekly "Brags. Worries. Wonders. Bets."

I spoke at a conference with 50+ founders and CEOs (here’s what I learned). The CEO who followed me shared his leadership team’s practice. They all send notes with at least one entry on each heading: 

  • Brags: Team’s accomplishments

  • Worries: Team's perceived risks

  • Wonders: Team's spotted opportunities

  • Bets: Team's next focus

This hits morale by celebrating the team and creating far more transparency. 

My team always seems confused about priorities

Habit: Weekly "Loom" Wrap Up

Consistency drives change. A CEO we work with once told me, "Just about the time I'm exhausted from repeating myself is right around the first time the team hears me." This matches my experience as well. Especially in turbulent times.

The highest leverage way to get the word out while ensuring nothing gets lost in a game of telephone: video messages. They take a few minutes to make, they can see your emotions and hear your tone, and just like a podcast, the listers will feel like they know you. 

My team is always hiring

Habit: Weekly Outreach

If your team is constantly playing catch-up staffing a full team, chances are you're hiring instead of recruiting. What's the difference? 

Hiring is selecting candidates who are available when something opens up.

Recruiting is proactively nurturing relationships with the best talent so you can call upon them when needed. 

A straightforward way to make the transition is to get everyone on your team to reach out to 2-3 people in their network every week.

A simple note of gratitude. Share an interesting article. Grab coffee. 

Whatever it is, keep those connections warm. 

My team can't keep skills current

Habit: Monthly Lunch-and-Learn

Best way to learn something? Teach others. 

Rotate responsibility for this around your team, and you'll keep skills current while clearly signaling the value of doing so.

My team is always overwhelmed

Habit: Monthly Cleanout

When your team constantly puts out fires, finding the space to prevent them can be hard. What if you devoted one day a month to precisely that?

It's fairly straightforward: 

  • Keep an inventory of problems. 

  • Spend an hour prioritizing the list. 

  • Free up everyone to grab one and fix it.

Not only will this create capacity, but it removes the perception that you never truly solve problems.  

My team is demotivated

Habit: Weekly Skip-Level Lunch

A lack of motivation is a symptom, not a cause. So you need to get to the root cause underneath and understand "Why." And even if you have highly transparent leaders working for you, they will have blind spots. A straightforward way to get around that is to go around them (tell them, of course). 

Skip-level meetings with their direct reports allow you to get closer to the frontlines in a high-leverage way. Make them low-stakes and relaxed, and you'll learn a lot.

My team is not engaged

Habit: Quarterly Pulse

A close cousin of motivation is engagement. And a disengaged team is a ticking timebomb. If you don't fix it fast, your best people will flee. 

One habit that helped me proactively uncover issues was building an engagement heatmap from a regular employee pulse survey

You may have to start by making it anonymous. But if your team sees you using it to solve problems, they'll quickly become comfortable signing their name to it. 

Then you'll have enlisted an army of problem solvers. 

And that's a habit we can all aspire to.

Podcast Rewind

Last summer, I was a guest on the Rising Leader podcast.

We explored a range of topics, including:

  • Overcoming your leadership identity crisis

  • Why you’d be wise to use “real work” for recruiting

  • How to structure and deliver constructive feedback that works

Mark’s energy is off the charts. I hope you enjoy it!

Find it on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or your favorite platform.

Thank you for reading. Appreciate you!


Ways To Work With Us

MGMT Accelerator - Our flagship leadership development program is taught live over 8 sessions. 50 leaders from companies around the world will build out their foundational management systems together. Perfect for leaders with 3-10 years experience. The next cohort starts February 6th.

Customized Leadership Workshops- We’ve brought our MGMT Accelerator in-house at over a dozen companies. We tailor our program to your culture and current practices and help your managers build a common language and approach to leading. Ideal for scaling companies with 20+ leaders. Hit reply to schedule a call with us.

1:1 Executive Coaching - I work with 4-5 C-level executives to help them level up as leaders while solving real business problems. My next opening is available in March. Drop me a note to see if my approach to coaching is right for you.

Speaking - I tried a few keynote gigs towards the end of last year, and I really enjoyed it. And the reception has been great. I’m looking to get a few more on the calendar this year. Hit reply on this note to schedule a time to discuss topics and pricing.

MGMT Playbook - If you’re here because someone forwarded this email to you, please make sure to subscribe before you leave. We’ll never sell your email or spam your inbox.

Subscribe to keep reading

This content is free, but you must be subscribed to MGMT Playbook to continue reading.

Already a subscriber?Sign In.Not now