Best practices for a new era
(Editor’s note: second of two parts. Read the first part here.)
If you want to lead confidently into a new era by focusing on what is certain, may I recommend a few good practices:
1) Waste time. The cat spends more time watching than chasing its prey. Productivity isn’t always a straight line. Find space and time for tuning into what’s really going on around you. This is a discipline that serves you in a frenetic pace of life, helps you become clearer about what to respond to, what to let go, and creates internal peace and well-being. Further, the latest neuro-science research proves that if you want to lead strategically – not reactively – you need to cultivate time that isn’t simply reacting to the day-to-day fires and crises of the moment. Spend time away from your office. Have lunch with someone who inspires or interests you. Read a book or material outside your industry. Pursue an artistic endeavor that makes your creative juices flow, especially if your work doesn’t provide that outlet. Get outside. Sit still and breathe. Walk slow. Smile a lot.
2) Broaden your definition of success. Life may be hard, but metrics don’t have to be. In business, your destination should be in focus, but the landing can be soft. Measures of cash position, P&L and revenue are important to stay afloat. But measures like how much people are learning, developing themselves and others, being engaged signal that the journey and the destination are equally important. It’s no secret that a healthy, viable business is dependent on engaged, creative, happy people. And successful, happy people more easily draw greater success to their corner of the world.
3) Partner. Surround yourself with people who are invested in one another’s success. Being a leader can be lonely – people rely on you for answers and guidance. Who do you rely on? Find people who lift you up, challenge you to be better, make you think in new ways, believe in you, and are committed to helping you succeed. Smart leaders spend time with people like this every week – and look for ways to make their business succeed by helping other businesses succeed.
4) Plan for the future, stay rooted in the present. Imagination is a unique gift of mankind. But too often, planning creates fear and pressure to predict success based on fragile assumptions. Remember nature’s lesson about balance? Planning must balance both excitement and possibility (vision and invention, iPod, sushi, and women’s best friend, Spanx) – as well as one that is grounded in “what can go wrong.” And, nothing drains our brain like planning, kind of like how a hi-def movie drains your laptop battery – the brain science proves it. So when you’re thinking about the future, minimize distractions.
5) Grow someone. Good relationships are the ultimate enduring element of human life. We are tribal. Fostering high-trust connections is crucial for a healthy business – within your teams and with outside stakeholders. Needs are met more easily through people we know than through strangers. So ask yourself: Who are you keeping a wing out for? Find at least one (preferably several) people whose success you unconditionally, unabashedly support. Pay it forward, pay it back, teach something you’ve learned, pass on goodwill to someone else.
Leading in a new era is not that different from good leadership in any era: The willingness to initiate, to guide others where they cannot on their own, and to be fearless in the face of obstacles.
Which brings us to the ultimate enduring idea: When you get there, be sure the journey was a reward and the people who joined you are worth celebrating with.
Life is short. Enjoy.