In the September issue I made the case that leadership excellence grows through deliberate practice. In this issue I’d like to ground that assessment with several examples.
But first, a quick refresher on the attributes of deliberate practice. You will recall that it (a) is designed specifically to improve performance, (b) can be repeated at high volume, (c) involves continuous feedback from a teacher or coach, (d) requires intense concentration, and (e) may not always be fun.
Let me also make a distinction between practices and habits. (Thank you, Dr. D, for the reminder to do this). Practices are conscious. Habits are not. If you tend to signal to others that you agree with them when inside you don’t–and you’re not aware you’re doing this, at least until much later–I would call this a habit. On the other hand, if you are consciously speaking up when you see things differently, even when this feels uncomfortable, I would call this a practice. All of us go through the day with dozens, if not hundreds, of habits that vary in their impact on our leadership. I often ask leaders to observe those habits in order to develop more freedom to respond. It’s part one of rewiring the brain. Then and only then do I ask them to practice something new. With enough repetition, that new practice becomes–yes, you guessed it–a habit. [Read more…] about Three Stories of Practicing Leadership [November 2011]