We all know that leaders are confident, creative, and communicative. Leaders actively listen, make time for other people, and explore new productivity initiatives. But it’s easy to be a good leader — it’s harder to be a truly great one. In this ever-changing landscape, what really separates a good leader from a great leader?
There are a few specific behaviours that modern leaders are using to get an edge on their competition — and you may be surprised to discover just how specific they are.
1. Mindfulness through meditation
Meditation certainly isn’t a modern technique. It has existed as long as humanity has — and for good reason. Calming yourself and your mind becomes more important the more pressure you’re under. For leaders specifically, though, one of the most important elements of meditation is in mindfulness.
It’s easy for people to get lost and adrift during hectic, busy days, rather than really paring down to and living within a single moment. Mindfulness makes you more aware of your thought processes and your reactions. And that’s an incredibly important skill for a leader — especially when making decisions.Decision-making is a naturally analytical and emotional process, and it's often difficult for members of the C-suite to fully strip out their pre-existing beliefs.
Being more mindful about your thought processes will naturally lead you down the path towards better decision-making, which in turn will bring you to better leadership results.
2. Getting unplugged
Elon Musk reportedly spends 16 hours a day working. But Elon Musk is a genius and an inventor — not a leader. In fact, Elon Musk’s leadership skills have been almost continuously called into question just this year, and a lot of that can be blamed on exhaustion and overwork.
Modern leaders aren’t burning the candles at both ends — because modern leaders understand that they need to be clear and present when they are called upon. Instead, modern leaders are taking their time, unplugging, and separating their work life from their home life.
By focusing down to what’s really important, modern leaders are able to make more effective use of their time. Rather than struggling through a 12 or 14 hour work day, the modern leader strives to learn how to work more effectively, getting the same amount done in half the time. This leaves far more cognitive energy for the tasks that are important.
3. Eating right
Since the 1970s, it’s frequently been claimed that humans have 10 more bacterial cells in their body than their own human cells. This is actually untrue: human cells and bacterial cells are closer to a 1.3:1 ratio. But that’s still a sizable ratio — and what’s more, we are now finding out that the health of our bacterial ecosystems could impact not only our own health, but our mood.
This isn’t just about eating your fruits and vegetables. Many leaders are now using elimination diets to find out whether they could be susceptible to certain foods. Gut microbiomes could impact everything from anxiety to communication skills, as well as making people more likely to develop other health issues such as gluten intolerance. Furthermore, something as simple as eating more yogurt could improve health and well-being — all of which can improve leadership skills.
We’re still developing a better understanding of how our diet impacts our mood and overall health, but it’s no longer up for debate that it does. Few great leaders today are eating junk food and sugar; they’re eating balanced meals, paying attention to their macros, and making sure they feel good every morning.
4. Discovering their quantified self
From productivity trackers to fitness trackers, many leaders are becoming fans of developing their quantified self. It’s not an entirely new idea: the trend began in 2007. But it has recently become far more feasible due to the proliferation of smartphone apps and health trackers. Rather than pouring over written logs and wasting their time, modern leaders are able to automatically track and analyse health and performance.
Through data, leaders can get a better understanding of who they are. True leadership is often about understanding and developing yourself as a person. Modern data can facilitate that. Today’s leaders are able to track everything from their moods to the amount of sleep they get — and they can figure out how that’s impacting their overall behaviour. Big data can be applied to everything in business… as well as your own personal leadership style.
Developing better leadership through a better self
As you can see, developing yourself as a leader has taken a shift towards both the scientific and holistic. A good leader is one who concentrates on building out their leadership skills; a great leader is one who concentrates on becoming a better person. A great leader is someone who hasn’t just already established themselves as a leader, but who inspires others towards becoming better themselves. It’s impossible to invoke this type of inspiration without being a special type of person.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a learned trait, just like any other. As you connect with other leaders, executives, and professionals, you’ll find out more about the type of leader you want to be. TEC can help. Through TEC, you can gain immediate access to others who are experimenting and exploring with the same types of leadership styles — as well as those who are on the cutting-edge.
The TEC Live podcast is a great resource to keep up to date on the latest economic trends, business challenges and leadership insights. Listen to Sven Hansen on the important concepts for today’s leaders who need to perform at their optimum and Gaj Ravichandra on mental toughness as research has shown that mental toughness is 3 times more impactful than academic ability and performance in terms of success and happiness.