Skill 04 – Walk Your Talk

The Complete List of Essential Leadership Habits for New Managers, Team Leaders, and Change Agents to Lead with Confidence

Great leaders walk their talk.

Walking your talk is about noticing how your actions (or inaction) make a positive or negative impact on everyone around you. 

It’s about looking within and doing the hard inner work required to transform ourselves into great leaders.

The habits in this area about becoming aware of our purpose, vision, and values.

Let’s start walking our talk …

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Habit 2 -​ Inner Work

It still amazes me when leaders say they want their people to embrace change, but are unwilling to embrace it themselves.

You will quickly lose creditability with others if you say one thing and do another.

Sure, we can bully and exert our power to get someone to do something in the short term.

But to lead our families, shape company culture, or implement an effective strategy, requires a transformation of everyone involved.

Transformation means abandoning old ways of thinking and doing and adopting new beliefs and habits.

Our legacy will be measured by our ability to engage with and transform the minds and hearts of the people around us.

But before we can transform others, we need to transform ourselves.

This is our inner work.

Habit 11 -​ First Things First

First Things First is a Top-Down approach to personal effectiveness that enables us to overcome our reactive nature and transform our world from the inside out.

I was first introduced to this approach from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and later explored in-depth with First Things First, both by Stephen Covey.

With this approach, we move down the productivity stack and apply these core habits …

The real power of the First Things First approach comes from using these habits in unison.

So take some time and make it a priority to adopt this habit stack.

Try them on for a few weeks, assess what works for you, and make adjustments over time.

[source] The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

[source] First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

Habit 12 – Start With Purpose

Purpose is the key that unlocks our inner leader.

There’s a reason why you’ve been put on this earth – and your job is to figure out why.

If you have yet to figure out your purpose, then your purpose is to discover your purpose.

Your purpose can be found by exploring your story – the unique set of events that have brought you to this point in your life.

Your story is a combination of your …

  • Struggles – What challenging experiences have you overcome?
  • Strengths – What is your unique way of viewing the world?
  • Standards – What compels you to take action?

Just like the edges of a puzzle, once you uncover the patterns of your story, the pieces of your purpose magically fall into place.

How do you know if you’ve discovered your purpose?

Here’s a checklist from Leading From Purpose by Nick Craig …

  1. Purpose brings meaning to life’s challenges.
  2. Your purpose will endure throughout your entire life.
  3. Purpose works no matter what you “do.”
  4. Purpose works in all parts of your life.
  5. Purpose relives the “imposter syndrome.”
  6. The curious young child inside of you will show up.

If you can say yes to each of these, you’ve discovered your purpose.

[source] Leading From Purpose by Nick Craig

Habit 13 – Identify Your Roles

A role is a part of your life that requires your care and attention.

If any role is neglected for an extended period, it will have a significant impact on your overall level of success, happiness and personal fulfillment.

How do you identify your roles? Here are a few guidelines …

  1. A role is a natural extension of your purpose.
  2. A role involves relationships with people.
  3. A role requires learning and personal growth.
  4. A role requires or creates resources (time, money, energy).

The ideal number of roles that you want to manage is somewhere between 5 to 7. Any more and you will quickly become overwhelmed, and any less you are probably missing a key area or two.

If you are looking for a place to start, I would suggest using The 7 Skills of Great Leaders

Or for a more work/life balance view, check out this post.

[source] First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

Habit 14 – Set MT Goals

You’ve probably heard of setting SMART goals. SMART is the goal-setting process of making sure your goals are S – specific, M – measurable, A – attainable, R – realistic and T – time-bounded.

I was never really a fan of this process, and I was overjoyed when I stumbled upon this podcast from the folks at Manager Tools.

The argument is that the critical part of goal setting is that your goals need to be M – measurable and T – time-bounded, and it adds confusion and wastes time to make them fit the remaining SMART criteria.

And I couldn’t agree more.

Once you’ve identified your roles, set 1 or 2 MT Goals for each.

[source] The Manager Tools Podcast

Habit 15 – Big Rocks First

To explain Big Rocks First, here’s a story from First Things First by Stephen Covey …

I attended a seminar once where the instructor was lecturing on time. At one point, he said, “Okay, it’s time for a quiz.” He reached under the table and pulled out a wide-mouth gallon jar. He set it on the table next to a platter with some fist-sized rocks on it. “How many of these rocks do you think we can fit in the jar?” he asked.

After we made our guess, he said, “Okay. Let’s find out.” He set one rock in the jar … then another … then another. I don’t remember how many he got in, but the jar was full. Then he asked, “Is the jar full?”

Everybody looked at the rocks and said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Ahhh.” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar and the gravel went in all the spaces left by the big rocks. Then he grinned and said once more, “Is the jar full?”

By this time, we were on to him. “Probably not,” we said.

“Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went in all the little spaces left by the rocks and the gravel. Once more, he looked at us and said, “Is the jar full?”

“No!” We all roared.

He said, “Good!” and he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in. He got something like a quart of water in that jar. Then he said, “Well, what’s the point?”

Somebody said, “Well, there are gaps, and if you really work at it, you can always fit more into your life.”

“No,” he said, “that’s not the point. The point is this: if you hadn’t put these big rocks first, would you have gotten any of them in?”

This story illustrates the importance of intentionally carving out time in our calendars for what matters most.

Make it a habit to regularly review your roles and goals and plan ahead by blocking out time in your calendar for your big rocks.

[source] First Things First by Stephen Covey

Habit 16 – Moments of Impact

It’s impossible to be on your game 100% of the time.

In reality, there are just a handful of moments throughout the day where we need to be at our best.

Author Todd Herman in his book The Alter Ego Effect, calls these Moments of Impact.

Moments of impact are the actions, opportunities, events, situations, or expectations that have the greatest impact on your success.

And it’s in these situations where we are the most vulnerable, we face the most resistance, and we tend to be the most emotional.

When these moments happen, we have a choice.

We can either …

1) Step back into our comfort zone by adopting our reactive leadership style.

Or

2) Choose to embrace the growth that happens when we step out of our comfort zone and train ourselves to show up at our best in these critical moments.

Just like professional athletes train for those critical moments during the game, great leaders prepare by bringing their best selves to their moments of impact throughout the day.

The secret to becoming a great leader is to identify those moments and intentionally show up at our best.

[source] The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman

Habit 44 – Leadership Presence

Our leadership presence is when our intentions, thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are aligned and all moving in the same direction.

Author Amy Cuddy, in her book Presence says that “Presence manifests as  confidence without arrogance.”

When we are present, our …

  • Anxiety and self-doubt have vanished.
  • Shields have been lowered and our hearts are open.
  • Ability to connect with and influence others is at it’s highest.

It’s like we have accessed a flow-like peak performance state where we are effortlessly able to unleash our inner leader during key moments of impact.

We’ve all been influenced by leaders that exude this elusive quality.

The question is, how can we access it?

Take a moment to recall a time when a friend made you laugh.

I’m talking about a really deep belly laugh, not just a simple smirk or giggle.

Go back to that exact moment and remember that feeling of laughing.

Notice how in that exact moment you have momentarily set down all of your cares and concerns and any anxiety or stress seems to have melted away.

And just like ripples in a pond, notice how this state has carried over into your next iteraction and has impacted the people around you in a positive way.

There are many ways to access these peak performance states and develop your leadership presence.

Habits like meditation, journaling, and connecting with purpose, are excellent ways to deal with the stuff that’s preventing your from owning your leadership presence.

However there’s one habit, when mastered, works every time.

I call this habit The GAMES Model and we are going to cover it next.

[source] Presence by Amy Cuddy

Habit 45 – Mind-shifting

Mind-shifting is a technique that anyone can use to nudge their inner leader into making an appearance.

It can be used in real time, in real-world situations, and all it takes is 15 minutes a day.

To help you remember this habit, I created a five-step process called The GAMES Model.

Each letter of GAMES represents a step in the process. Let’s start with ‘G’.

Step 1 – Goal

The first step is to set a clear intention focused on what you want to achieve.

Look ahead at your day and choose a moment of impact where you want a positive outcome.

Take a moment and visualize the successful completion of your goal.

Step 2 – Adversity

Once you’ve identified your moment of impact, it’s time to figure out what may be preventing you from achieving it.

When I first added this step, I was very good at placing blame on others and looking for reasons outside of myself.

The real work of great leadership begins when you look within and start developing self-awareness by widening the gap between stimulus and response.

As you dig deeper, you will start to identify the underlining fears, beliefs, thoughts, doubts, habits and behaviours that are preventing you from owning your leadership presence.

For this step, narrow in on a specific roadblock that’s preventing your inner leader from making an appearance.

Step 3 – Mindshift

Mind-shifting is the ability to use the muscles of our mind to nudge our inner leader into making an appearance.

For example, we’ve all had situations where we’ve been unable to think clearly because of fear, judgement, anger or anxiety.

One of the most natural mind-shifting techniques is to stop and breath and is a great way to recenter and ground yourself.

Simply take a mindfulness moment for the next two minutes by focusing your attention on your breath.

Step 4 – Experiment

At this point, you should be in one of two places. Your next action is either; crystal clear or you are still experiencing uncertainty.

If you are clear on the next action – do it!

On the other hand, if you are not sure, I recommend that you guess and test.

Yup … guess what the next action could be and test it out.

So determine your micro-behaviour (a small, focused action) and do it (guess and test).

Step 5 – Satisfied

The last step of the of The GAMES Model is to check-in and measure your results.

To do this, ask yourself: “Am I satisfied with the result of my actions?”

If yes, congrats! Take a moment to recognize the effort that you applied to achieve your goal.

If no, congrats! Take a moment to recognize what positive thing you learned.

Regardless of your result, the secret of success is to continue through the five-step loop of The GAMES Model, again and again.

To help develop your daily habit of mind-shifting, I’ve created a template called The Great Leaders One-Page Blueprint, and you can download it here.

Habit 59 – Personal Mission Statement

One of my favourite quotes is the mission statement from the late Stephen R. Covey.

“To Live, to Learn, to Love, to Leave a Legacy.”

What a simple yet powerful way to approach life.

Your mission statement could be a simple as Mr. Covey’s above or more detailed as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream …” speech.

Your mission statement should be an authentic representation of who you are.

It should capture your values, your purpose and, most importantly, inspire you to bring your best self to the world.

Once you have your personal mission statement, build the habit to review it daily.

And consider crafting a mission statement for your family, your team, and your organization.

[article] “I have a dream …” by  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Habit 69 – Know Your Values

Great leaders know their values.

The most popular list of values comes from the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

This list includes temperance, industry, and humility, to name just a few.

[article] List of Values from the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

What are your values?

Select five to nine values and list them in order of importance.

As a bonus, write a short paragraph describing why this value is important to you.

I recommend performing an integrity review at least once a year to assess how you are living up to your values.

Here’s a list of 176 values to choose from …

Abundance

Diversity

Justice

Rationality

Acceptance

Education

Kindness

Recognition

Accomplishment

Effectiveness

Knowledge

Relationships

Accountability

Efficiency

Leadership

Relax

Accuracy

Empathy

Learning

Reliability

Achievement

Equality

Lightness

Religion

Action

Equilibrium

Love

Resourcefulness

Adventure

Excellence

Loyalty

Respect

Agility

Explore

Mastery

Responsibility

Authentic

Fairness

Meaning

Righteousness

Awareness

Faith

Merit

Risk-Taking

Balance

Family

Mindfulness

Romance

Beauty

Fearless

Modesty

Safety

Boldness

Flexibility

Money

Security

Bravery

Focus

Non-violence

Self Love

Breathe

Forgiveness

Openness

Self-esteem

Calm

Freedom

Opportunity

Selflessness

Caring

Friendship

Optimism

Seriousness

Challenge

Fun

Order

Service

Change

Generosity

Organization

Simplicity

Cleanliness

Giving

Outcome Orientation

Sincerity

Collaboration

Going the Extra Mile

Outstanding Service

Skill

Comfort

Goodness

Ownership

Speed

Commitment

Grace

Partnership

Spirit

Communication

Gratitude

Passion

Stability

Community

Grounded

Peace

Strength

Compassion

Growth

Perseverance

Style

Competence

Happiness

Persistence

Surrender

Competition

Hard Work

Personal Growth

Systemization

Confidence

Harmony

Play

Teamwork

Connection

Health

Pleasure

Thoughtful

Content over Fluff

Heart

Poise

Timeliness

Continuous Improvement

Holiness

Positive

Tolerance

Control

Honor

Positive Attitude

Tradition

Convincing

Humility

Power

Tranquility

Cooperation

Humor

Practicality

Trust

Courage

Independence

Presence

Truth

Create

Influence

Preservation

Understanding

Creativity

Inner Peace

Privacy

Union

Decisiveness

Innovation

Progress

Unity

Determination

Integrity

Prosperity

Variety

Dignity

Intelligence

Punctuality

Well-being

Discipline

Investing

Quality

Win

Discovery

Joy

Quiet

Wisdom

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