Leadership is not prescriptive and what works for one person may not work for another. There is one trait, however, that many successful business leaders and entrepreneurs share: They are constantly asking themselves questions to stay relevant and perceptive.
Whether you’re running a company, heading up a startup or leading a team, your ability to analyze and critique your workday and approach is critical to success. Keeping tabs on your own development might help figure out areas for improvement, deepen your understanding of your industry and set a good example to the people you manage.
Asking yourself these questions every day will help you grow as an individual and as a leader:
1. What did I achieve?
At the end of each working day, take a step back and ask what you’ve achieved. Keeping tabs on your accomplishments is a great positivity and productivity booster. Strive to undertake at least one meaningful task each day that will directly help you reach your end goals. If you believe you could have achieved more, harness your disappointment and channel that energy to help you work harder the next day.
2. What mistakes did I make and how can I learn from them?
Not every decision you make will be the right one. And in such instances, holding your hands up and admitting you have made a mistake is the best thing to do. There is a saying, “More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying that they made them.” And these words of wisdom are important to remember. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how you respond to them that defines you.
3. Did I help someone else succeed today?
Good leaders focus on the success of those around them as well as their own personal achievements. Make it your mantra to help others succeed or provide them with opportunities each day. It doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It could be something as simple such as spending 20 minutes with an employee to discuss his or her performance and progress. Building the strength of those working for you will ultimately enhance your company.
4. What motivated me?
Running a business and leading a team can be difficult and during the tough times, reach for the motivation that keeps you going and encourages you to strive for betterment. Take note of the things that inspire you and draw on them when you need renewed enthusiasm. Good leaders are acutely aware of the things that fuel their personal motivation and use that knowledge to their benefit.
5. Did I work toward my goals?
When you’re at the helm of a ship, it's wise to keep destination in mind. Likewise when you're running a business or leading a team, you should have goals to keep everyone focused and moving in the same direction. Outline your business aims and ask yourself every day if you've worked toward them. If not, figure out why not and how you'll change tack to put everything on the right trajectory. Never lose sight of your goals.
6. What stumbling blocks did I come across?
What are your sticking points? Is there a particular division of the business that you struggle with? Are you unable to come up with a workable strategy for a particular function? If so, identify the areas that require improvement or the resources that will go a long way toward overcoming the problem.
Once you understand where your weaknesses lie, create a small team and talk about the areas of concern. Share ideas and work through the issues together in a constructive way. This is great for team building and getting everyone on the same page. It will also get the problem solved so you can move on.
7. What do I need to let go of?
You’re setting yourself up for failure if you take on too much. Business owners and department heads can be guilty of the notion that they need to be directly involved with every decision made at their business. Part of being a leader is being able to recruit effectively.
Build a team around you that you trust to make decisions and get things done. Don’t be removed from your business. Instead allow your employees to shoulder some of the burden. This not only means that progress will happen quicker. But by sharing the responsibility, you''ll build a more collaborative company culture. Ask yourself today, What can I hand over?
8. What legacy do I want to leave behind?
Finally, how do you want to be remembered? Keep this in mind every day and work toward that end goal. Are you happy with the way you conducted yourself today? Remember that character rules.
You're not born with the qualities that make up your character, but develop them as you go through your experiences, failures and successes. Govern reactions to events to develop the character you'd like to have.