There’s no such thing as “overnight success” in leadership. Great leaders don’t get great all at once. They get great by making a little progress every day and then stringing that progress together across the years and the decades.
If you want to become a great leader, don’t try to do it all at once. Instead, become just a little bit better every day. Here are some simple things to help you.
It’s important to have great big goals that you’re working toward, but you need small performance goals for every day and every week. Don’t make them fancy. Don’t have too many. One or two at the most.
We live in a business world that worships planning. In real life, you need “just enough planning” Just enough planning varies from person to person and sometimes from situation to situation.
Use your calendar to plan your week. Schedule the important things first, to make sure you’ll get them done. Important things include one-on-one meetings with your teammates and thinking time. Schedule the less important things around the important ones. Stephen Covey called that “putting the big rocks in first.”
Pick the one most important thing you have to do the next day the night before. That way you can start the day working on the most important thing without taking time to think about what it’s supposed to be.
We only learn from our experience, squeezing the most learning possible out of it, when we reflect and plan to do things differently. Make reflection a simple habit. Take a little time at the end of the day to figure out what you did and how you could do better. Take a little time every week to do the same.
Making steady progress is easier if you use some simple tools. Here are three for you to master.
Use simple checklists. Checklists are great for making sure that you do the routine things routinely. That way they don’t get in the way of the big things you want to do. Use checklists for most recurring situations. Change them when you need to.
Simple scorecards are great for helping you keep track of how you’re doing. Use a scorecard for keeping track of important things you need to do. Use a visible scorecard to keep track of the important things your team needs to do. Sam Walton was a pretty successful guy, and he used a simple “Beat Yesterday” book when he started out at his first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas. He was still keeping them up when he died.
Simple reminders on your phone can jog your attention about important things you need to do. Most of us have our phone with us almost all the time, so any reminder that you put there is likely to find you.
A Simple Bottom Line
You have a simple choice. You can work every day to do the simple things that build success or you can look back a couple of decades from now and wonder why you never achieved it.
If you’d like some ideas about little things you can do to get better, check out my new e-book Become a Better Boss One Tip at A Time.