Leadership is Rarely Built on Grand Gestures
When creating development plans, leaders frequently build extensive blueprints, filled with aspirational actions. What I’ve observed is that they are often filled with many things to be done occasionally. A monthly offsite. A weekly 1:1. A quarterly recognition program. While these intermittent actions may have some benefits, the most rapid and meaningful shifts come from making a few small changes each and every day. Not weekly, not monthly.
I heard about the “do small things often” approach from the renowned psychologist and researcher, Dr. John Gottman. Gottman said, “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” From what I see with clients, the same is true in leadership.
Do you want to be a more strategic leader? Take 3-5 minutes before each meeting to determine how the discussion will relate to company strategy and consider how you’ll make those connections during the meeting. Want to be communicate more powerfully? Pick the two most important meetings you have each day work on how you can clarify your message, or use more descriptive language, or create a greater connection with others in the meeting. Whatever your leadership goal, it’s not about having a long list of things you do once in a while. Rather, it’s about picking one or two, small things and being relentlessly focused on doing it every day. Over time, this changes the texture of the way others experience you and how you engage.
Leadership isn’t worsened by sporadic major events or the occasional “halftime speech” for the team. But those aren’t the common moments where people see what you are made of. How your leadership capabilities grow and show up depends on your consistent daily actions and behaviors.
Be intentional about the small things to be the leader you want to be.