Craig Groeschel - 8 Habits of Great Leaders - Part 1
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Well, the habits you have today will shape who you become tomorrow. So if you wanna be more effective in your leadership, get strategic with your habits. Today is Part 2 of a three-part leadership series called Mastering the Habits That Matter the Most. In the last episode, we talked about how to create the right habits to become the leader that you want to be. We said the very important statement that the potential of your leadership is a reflection of the quality of your habits. So if you want to change your leadership, change your habits. I wanna start with a quote that I say over, and over, and over again, and that is this. "Successful people do consistently what others do occasionally".
Successful leaders, same thing. Successful leaders do consistently what others do occasionally. Shout out to our YouTube community. I wanna thank you for being a consistent part of our community. In fact, if you wanna tell us where you're watching from right now, that would be amazing. Just type in the comment section, "I'm watching from..." wherever you are. And I wanna tell our YouTube community that we do have a new book out February the 14th that's called "The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most". This is a resource that I believe can help you grow in your leadership. What do we know? Whenever we look at people that are consistently successful, we know this. It doesn't matter where they start, what field they're in, what hand they're dealt. They find a way to win, they find a way to improve, they find a way to grow, they find a way to add value, and it's really important to understand it's not that they've mastered certain skills, it's that they've mastered a certain mindset.
What do we know about our mindset and our habits? Your habits aren't just a result of what you do. Your habits are a result of how you think, and this is why your mindset matters so much in leadership. The best leaders just think differently. So in this episode and the first episode of next month, we're gonna examine the eight habits great leaders have in common, the eight habits great leaders have in common. And to be clear, you don't have to master all eight of these habits. If you don't have all eight of them, doesn't mean you're not gonna be a great leader. You won't be great at everything, but you do want to master most of these habits because you won't find many leaders who have all eight of these, but you won't find any successful leaders who don't have several of them.
And so I'm gonna give you the habits. We're gonna cover four today and we're gonna cover in detail four in the next episode. I'm gonna have a little fun with them, give a little texture to these habits. I call them these. Number one, you wanna adopt the habit of no snooze. Number two, the habit of pre-deciding. Number three, the habit of the hard-right. Number four, the habit of you-first leadership. Number five, the habit of touching the line. Number six, the habit of one more rep. Number seven, the habit of fueling the fire. And number eight, you want the habit of showing back up.
Today, we're gonna cover the first four. And then on the first Thursday of next month, we're gonna cover the final four. Let's talk about a habit that you want. I call it number one, you wanna adopt the habit of no snooze. Let me explain. I'll start by asking a question. How do you get out of bed each morning? Option A, do you wake up naturally? There's no alarm, you just wake up and you attack the day. Option B, do you wake up to your alarm, your alarm sounds, and then you get up immediately. Or option C, do you wake up to your alarm, and then hit Snooze? Do you wake up to your alarm, and then you hit Snooze, and then you stay in bed for 10 minutes more? Well, the majority of you most likely do option three. According to a new study done at the University of Notre Dame, 57% people hit the Snooze button. That's almost six in 10 people hit the Snooze button.
Now, if you're not a morning person, what I'm not gonna do is I'm not gonna try to shame you or to try to turn you into a morning person. So do not hear that in this teaching. I want you to know your body and roll with how you function best, but I want you to think about this. What happens when your annoying abrasive alarm sounds? What it does, according to research, is it triggers the part of your brain called the amygdala. That's the fight or flight part of your brain. And when that alarm goes off, your heart rate soars and adrenaline rushes through your body. And then what do 57% of people do? Well, in the name of a few more minutes of sleep, they hit Snooze. And 10 minutes or so later, the alarm goes off again, putting them through the same biological torment, okay?
Research actually shows that this can negatively impact your health, your mood. According to one article I read, it can clog your blood vessels and it can eventually increase the risk of heart problems. I wanna ask you to consider the habit of no snooze. Why does this matter? What it actually does is it changes your mindset. The no-snooze habit creates a different way of thinking about the day. In other words, you aren't letting your body lead you, you're leading your body into a great day. And what you're doing when your alarm goes off, or better yet, when you just wake up early, is you're telling yourself that the first part of your day matters.
Why is this so important? I would tell you that this, you want to start early, or if you can't start early, at least start strong. For me, I start early. And honestly, I'm generally the first person to the office. I am never, ever, ever, ever, ever, under any circumstances, here past 8:00 AM. If I'm not here at 8:00 AM, send help. I'm usually here several hours earlier than that, and one of the reasons is because my body is wired that way. Again, work with how your body is wired. But I know, when I go to bed at night, I'm not gonna hit Snooze in the morning. So what I do is I go to bed at a decent time, and this is important since I'm already thinking about tomorrow, I actually plan my day for the next day, the day before, because this is in my mindset. And because I'm kind of in the organized mindset when I go to bed, guess what? My mind is more at rest, and so my body tends to rest better.
I want you to think about this. If I can sleep mostly straight through the night, I don't need to stay in bed as long as some people. If you don't sleep long, you may be in bed an hour or two longer than I am. And think about this. If I spend one hour less in bed, instead of, say, eight hours, I spend seven hours and still get good quality sleep, that's one additional hour I have a day. If you do this, if you get one additional hour a day, that's 365 hours a year, do the math with me, I know this is nerdy, but hang with me. If a normal work day is eight hours, we would have the equivalent of almost 45 extra work days a year. Mind-blowing. That's a month and a half of productivity. If you simply get good sleep, get out of bed, and have one less hour a day in bed, that is a total game-changer.
So when the alarm goes off, you've got the habit of no snooze or better yet, one day, no alarm because your body is trained to get up. What are you doing? You're getting up at a fixed time, it gives you time to prioritize whatever helps you win the day. It's a mindset. And what we know about successful leaders is there's no set formula for a morning routine, but most of the most successful leaders do have intentionality into their morning. It might be they have prayer time or meditation, or if you're a Christian like me, it's time in the Word, or it might be exercise, or journaling, or it might be starting with a strategically healthy breakfast, or whatever it is. The bottom line is it's not accidental, it is intentional. So from the moment you wake up, you're on a mission. You got a plan, you're on the offense, you're gonna win the day. Consider the habit of no snooze.
Now, what's another quality of successful leaders? Successful people, successful leaders, they train themselves to think ahead or to decide early. Number two habit that you wanna adopt is this. The habit of pre-deciding, the habit of deciding ahead of time, and this habit applies very, very broadly. The basic principle is this. Anytime you can make a decision ahead of time, make it. Anytime you can, automate a decision, automate it. And there's several reasons why you want to do this. First, decision fatigue is a very real thing. Studies are conclusive, and I would encourage you to research this if you never have that the decisions you make, the more decisions you make, the more the quality of your decisions deteriorate that you just get tired making decisions.
And so as often as you can, decide ahead of time, decide once and automate that decision. And how you apply this mindset is up to you, but for me, I apply it into too many categories to count. For example, I mentioned earlier how I prepare for the next day. For me, a successful day starts the night before. And so when I wake up the next day, I've already pre-decided my morning routine. I know what I'm gonna do, I know what I'm going to eat. This is nerdy, but my food is already out, my little oatmeal sitting out, my bowl's sitting out, my spoon's sitting out. It's just ready, so it's easy for me to attack the day. I know what I'm gonna wear. My clothes are already out all the way down to my socks, my shoes, my belt, and other items I'm not gonna mention on this podcast.
What I'm taking to work is not all already out, but it's already loaded in my car to save me time so I can attack the day when I hit the office. My priorities for that day were set the day before. I pre-decided the day before what I'm gonna attack the day I get to the office. And sometimes, people will ask me like, "How do you get so much done"? And the answer is, it starts with prioritizing or pre-deciding to schedule first what matters most. You pre-decide to do what's important, so you don't just do what's urgent. When it comes to scheduling, I pre-decide to put my time in the blocks. I've blocked my time, I've got a study day. There's almost never to see anything on my calendar on Tuesday. That day is blocked off, and I start really, really early, and I lock myself in and don't talk to anybody. That time's blocked off. I've got time to brainstorm, I've got time for meetings, I've got time blocked off for decisions.
For me, I don't wanna make decisions until all the other stuff is off my mind, so I'll be more fresh. I make decisions on Thursday. So people have things they want me to decide, we talk about them on Thursday. So I pre-decided when I'm at my best to do my best work. My priorities dictate my schedule. We're gonna pre-decide. I want to encourage you to have the habit of pre-deciding. Do first what matters most. How might this apply in your leadership? Well, you might be wanting to work on developing your people. So you pre-decide you have quarterly one-on-one meetings. You don't just occasionally meet with your team, but you put it on the calendar. And once a quarter, you sit down, and you have real loving, caring, developmental conversations. Or your meetings might not be very productive right now.
So you pre-decide that you start each meeting with an agenda and you end each meeting with assignments and accountability. If you don't have an agenda, if you don't have a plan, and if you don't have an action on the end, why are you having the meeting in the first place? So you pre-decide, this is how we do meetings, and this applies to every area of your life. If you wanna be successful financially, most people just kind of spend what comes in. As it comes in, it goes out. But you might pre-decide, I'm a giver.
The first 10% I give to my church, the next 10% I invest. If you do that alone, you're gonna be way more successful. First 10 here, next 10 there, and then you spend the rest. In your marriage, same thing. You might pre-decide date nights or whatever night of the week, or we have one getaway a year with no kids. We've pre-decided, we're not gonna, one day, do this. This is a part of who we are. Same with your physical body. I pre-decide my snacks. The reason is because if I don't and someone brings donuts, the donuts will get me, okay? So you pre-decide. I'm working out at these times.
One more thought about pre-deciding, and this will sound counterintuitive, but it can be a game-changer. You might pre-decide not only when your day starts, but you might pre-decide when your work day ends. This sounds counterintuitive. My day starts earlier than most people's, but my day also ends earlier than most people. I leave the office almost every day by 3:45. I have a hard stop to my day. You say, "Well, how do you get so much done"? By pre-deciding an end time, it really does three things for me. Number one, it causes me to make decisions faster because I've got an end time to my day. Two is it helps me say, "No," to things that I shouldn't be doing. I'm more selective.
And number three, it helps me delegate what others can do. What did I do? I pre-decide to start to the day, I pre-decide at the end of the day, and it makes me more productive. I would argue that I'm more productive by pre-deciding an end time than if I stayed an extra hour or two. My pre-decided end time makes me more productive. You may say, "Okay, how did you get to this level of efficiency"? And the answer is by living for years in the pain of inefficiency, meaning for years, and years, and years, I had no plan. I just went whatever what's screaming the loudest. And little by little, year by year, I've dialed in my pre-decisions.
And by making lots of pre-decisions, I've predetermined to invest my time in the places that matter most. You can do that, too. Just start where you are, start small, and watch as your impact grows. To grow in your leadership impact. If you can decide early, decide early. If you can automate a decision, automate it. Pre-decide to do first what matters most. What are you? You are intentionally creating the right habits. What do you have? You got the habit of no snooze, we attacked the day. We have the habit of pre-deciding. The third habit you're gonna see in a lot of successful leaders is what I call the habit of doing the hard-right. The habit of doing the hard-right.
Here's a promise, and you know this. In your leadership, you're gonna face problems, and challenges, and obstacles, and you're always gonna have different options. And some of the options are gonna be easier than the others. And in most cases, not all, but in most cases, you're gonna have the easy option, which is usually wrong. And you're gonna have the difficult option, which is usually right. Again, it's not all cases, but in most of them, we could call it the easy-wrong and the hard-right. I wanna encourage you to create the habit of choosing the hard-right. For example, you may have a toxic team member that's disrupting the culture and prohibiting forward movement from happening. The easy thing to do, what a lot of us do, is we just kind of hope things get better or we kind of like hint around to this person or whatever.
The hard thing to do is to have a very serious developmental conversation where you say, "This kind of behavior is inappropriate. It needs to become this by this certain time. And if not, then we're gonna make a change". That's not easy to do, but you're gonna choose the hard-right. If your organization is struggling right now, it's easy to make the little tweaks to do what's easy to change, what's manageable. It's hard to make some really difficult decisions, maybe to remove some key leaders, or to shut down something that hasn't been working, or to tell the truth about where you are organization. What we're gonna do in our minds is we're gonna tell ourselves that we're a great leader. The great leaders choose the hard-right.
Many leaders tend to ask, "What's easy"? We don't do that. Many leaders ask, "What's easy"? The best leaders ask, "What's right"? And we get in the habit of choosing the hard-right. Now, if you're a seasoned leader, you know that this principle for your organization is difficult to do. And that's why so many leaders struggle to do the hard-right. The reason it's hard to do the hard-right is because it often makes a difficult situation even more difficult in the short run, and that's why it's hard. But, as a leader, you are called to solve the most difficult problems. And sometimes, making the hard-right decisions is painful. And that's why I always tell leaders, "If you aren't hurting, you aren't leading".
You have to make the very difficult choices that other people are unwilling to make. I tell our team often that the difference between where you are and where you could be might be the painful decision that you're avoiding. I want you to stop and think about that right now. The difference between the impact that you're having and the impact that you could have. The difference between where your team is and where it could be may be the painful decision that you're avoiding. Hey, we wanna be a great leader, and we know that great leaders, they choose the hard-right. Doing the hard-right may be more difficult in the short run, but you aren't playing for what makes tomorrow easier, you're playing for what makes your team better. I wanna encourage you to apply the habit of the hard right to every area of your life, not just your leadership.
If you did something wrong, it's easier to let it roll. It's harder to apologize. But if it's right to apologize, apologize. It's easier to hide a secret sin than it is to confess your secret sin. Confess it and find freedom. If someone hurts you, it's easier to be mad, to be ticked off, and it's harder and right to forgive. We're gonna choose the hard-right. From a spiritual standpoint, for those of you who might share my spiritual beliefs, I always tell people this. Do what's right and trust God with the results. Do what's right and trust God with the results. Because we'll never regret doing what's right, but we'll often regret doing what's easy. Let's go, leaders. Choose a hard-right over the easy-wrong. What are we? Well, we're gonna be a great leader. And many great leaders have the habit of no snooze. We attack the day. Many great leaders have the habit of pre-deciding. If we can decide early, we do. If we can automate it, we do. Great leaders have the habit of choosing the hard-right.
And the fourth and final one we'll talk about today is this. I call it the habit of you-first leadership. The best leaders have the habit of you-first leadership. I'll illustrate it. You and a buddy are walking into a restaurant, and you're talking side by side, and you get to the door. What do you do? Well, either you boldly walk out and you go first, or you intentionally slow down. You might put your head down a little bit, put your hand out, and you honor your friend and you say, "You go first". I wanna encourage you to take this mindset into your leadership and incorporate the you-first habit into your leadership. Now, I wanna tell you, you can have this intention in your heart, but it's harder to do than you can imagine, especially over time, and especially as you rise in influence because we have to call it what it is. The natural trajectory of leadership, unfortunately, is towards self. The natural trajectory.
If you're in a meeting and you're the leader, you tend to talk first and you generally talk last. If there's a decision to be made, your team often looks to you. If things are going well, people praise you, "Great job"! If things are not going well, they criticize you. And we have to understand, because the trajectory of leadership is towards self, we have to intentionally fight against it to really be a you-centered leader. So instead of being me-centered, we want to be you-centered in our leadership. And some are gonna push back and say, "But isn't it my job to get results"? I like what Simon Sinek said. Simon Sinek said, "The leaders who get the most out of their people are those who care most about their people". It really, really, really matters for us in our hearts to care about people.
Now, how does this play out? And I wanna tell you this clearly, is it has to start in your heart before they feel it in the office. In other words, you have to genuinely care. And I read a lot of the questions that you all send in on the podcast, and one podcast listener asked honestly, "How do I care for my team when I don't really like them"? That's a fair question, right? I like the honesty of that. If you don't like your team, there's one or two problems. Either one is you have the wrong people, and I just wanna kind of get in your face. Unless you inherited your team, who you have is either who you chose or who you allowed to stay.
In other words, your team is a combination of what you've created and what you've tolerated. So either you have the wrong people, option number one, or you have the right people, but you haven't led them well. If you don't like them, you may have a capable team, but you don't like them because they aren't maybe aligned with the team values or they don't have a strong work ethic, or they don't have passion for the mission. And so either you chose the wrong people or you haven't led them well. In both cases, it's on you.
Now, as a side note, and I just wanna say this and I want you to feel it, is you don't have to like everyone to care about them. You don't have to like someone to care about them. For example, you have family members that drive you crazy, right? But you still love them. And in your work, in your leadership, you don't have to prefer everyone to work well with them. In fact, the more people you lead, the more people will be outside of your preferences. And there are team members I don't prefer, and I guarantee you they don't prefer me, but I love them and I respect them, and they may love me and respect me. Now, the problem is, if you're like me, you're gonna be more naturally self-centered. And to become a leader, the trajectory often is that we believe we're good enough to be a leader, and so the trajectory moves really, really quickly towards self-centeredness.
So let me give you a suggestion to implement the habit of you-first leadership. Very, very simply, do this. Start every interaction with the other person in mind anytime you interact with someone. And this is not easy to do because we tend to start every interaction with either ourself in mind or with our leadership agenda in mind. You can see it all the way down into written communication. Let's say you're gonna send an email and you even wanna appreciate someone. In your email, most people start with I-centered communication. They'll say, "I want to tell you thank you," and that's starting with an I.
What you wanna do is start with a you. You wanna start the email and say, "You are an amazing leader. I want to tell you thank you". Start with you. Every time you can, start with them in mind, and one way to do this is to lead with questions. It can be an informal question like, "How was your weekend? How'd your kids do in the game"? Or if you're in a one-on-one, you can be more specific and you can ask things like, "What's something in your life outside the office that you're excited about"? Or like I'll say, as a pastor, "Hey, what's one way I could be praying for you to show that we care"? What you wanna do is you wanna start every interaction, every meeting, every time you can, with them in mind. And when you do this, you'll find that you're listening more than talking.
And I wanna tell this to you, and I want you to... I hope you feel this, is that you matter to me. Like, genuinely, you matter to me. And you matter to me more than I can describe. Like, I work really, really, really hard to try to create content that will help you because I genuinely care about you. And you may say, "But we've never met," and I'll tell you, "I don't care. I care". Because I know, the fact that you would listen to or watch something like this means that you really want to grow. And I want you to know you're capable, you're gifted, you're called, and I really believe it's my calling to help you become the best leader that you can be. And so if we ever meet sometime and you say like, "Well, it kind of feels like I know you, even though I don't know you". Like, I feel the same way. I feel the connection immediately because I was thinking about you when I wrote this, even though we may have never met.
I visualize a young leader like I was with more passion than wisdom, and I wanna speak directly to that person that you are because I was there. Or I visualize someone who's new in their role feeling insecure and incapable, and I speak directly to that because I was there, I felt the same way. I visualize a pastor who feels the weight of the spiritual calling with the reality of the spiritual opposition because I live there every single day. I visualize a company owner who feels the weight that his or her team will never, ever understand because I feel that same weight. And so when I write a leadership teaching, what I want you to know is I am thinking about you. And when you do the same for your team, they'll feel it. You don't have to say it, they'll feel it. And the bottom line is they'll work for a paycheck, but they'll give their heart, they'll give their best for someone who cares about them.
So if you wanna be great, create the habit of you-first leadership. Give as much away, praise as much as you can, care about as many different aspects of their life that is appropriate. Tell them how much they matter. Empower them to make decisions. And I always say this, that some leaders try to make you think that they are important, but the best leaders help you see why you are important. Now, we've covered a lot of content, and the good news is you don't have to adopt all these habits, but I wanna encourage you to pursue most of them, make them yours, own them in a way that is consistent with how you're wired in your leadership. What do we know about great leaders? Most great leaders don't let the day happen to them. They happen to their day. They get the no snooze habit. When you wake up, you wake up with a plan, you wake up with passion. Whenever you wake up, you wake up strong, and you bring your best, and you win the day.
The best leaders, they have the habit of pre-deciding. If you can make a decision early, you make it early. If you can automate it, you automate it. You pre-decide first to do what matters most. The best leaders, oh, there's a lot of easy options out there. But we don't choose easy, we choose right. We choose the hard-right. And the best leaders are not about themselves, the best leaders care deeply about the people entrusted to their care, and they lead with you-first leadership. And we bring our hearts and pour them out for the people around us. And then together, we can do something that really, really matters. Now, in the next episode, we're gonna cover four more habits: the habit of touching the line, the habit of one more rep, the habit of fueling the fire, and the habit of showing back up.
Remember what shapes your habits. The primary force that shapes your habits is what you think of you. And what shaped what you think of you? Your habits. So if you wanna change your leadership, we're gonna change our habits. If you wanna change what you do, change what you think of you. And that's why I wanna tell you, you have what it takes. You have everything you need to do everything you're created to do. You're not a victim, you're an overcomer. So let's grow. Let's invite others to be a part of our community. Don't forget the "The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most," a resource that will help you grow in your leadership. And we're gonna grow and we're gonna get better because we know that everyone wins when the leader gets better.