Look on any bottle of shampoo and you will see some variation of these three words. In addition to its application for improved hair care, the concept of repetition is also at the heart of successful and sustainable leadership development. Leadership development must be a continuous process for every leader in every organization regardless of circumstances. Organizations, large or small, for-profit or non-profit benefit from the investment in leadership development and the effective use of repetition to embed the new attitudes and behaviors that contribute to achieving desired results. This month, we will explore three reasons why continuous leadership development must be based on creating new repetitive habits of thought (attitudes) of success.
A quick note on our use of the term development as it sometimes gets used synonymously with training. In the context of this discussion, training would refer to the process of helping leaders learn new skills. Development is the process of helping leaders understand when and where to effectively use those new skills. So the discussion is about the use of development after the training occurs to create sustainable success.
An oft-quoted expression goes, “Change is inevitable, Growth is not!” Change is the first reason why repetition must be integral to leadership development. What made us good at something (sports, music etc.) was usually because we practiced it to the point of proficiency. In business, the environment around us is always changing creating a need to change with it to stay relevant. The repetitive habits to repeat in order to keep up with change are:
- When faced with a scenario that challenges the status quo, begin your questioning process with some form of “What if…?” or “Why not…?
- Re-validate the environment around you every six months to ensure your business assumptions are still relevant to your business strategy.
The second reason for repetitive leadership development is Effective Communications. Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel Corp. once said, “How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things but by how well we are understood”. In a global economy with four generations in the workforce, a leader’s ability to communicate effectively may well be the difference between success and failure. The challenge is in communicating the context of the message rather than just the content of the message. The repetitive habits to repeat to communicate more effectively are:
- Communicate the meaning of the message, especially around mission critical content.
- Become adept at asking effective open-ended questions which will draw out the true level of understanding and help the leader become a more effective listener.
The final reason to use repetition in leadership development is Goal Achievement. Leaders set goals and achieve desired results. Not just any results, but the desired results advancing the Vision and Strategy of the business. Clearly written goals have defined action steps to address all known obstacles. They also have associated due dates and accountable persons documented. These goals will succeed far greater than those that are vague, unwritten and do not align to the organization’s Strategy. The repetitive habits to repeat to achieve goals more effectively are:
- Unless goals are written down and communicated, they are not really goals. Write your goals and display them in a place you will see them at least three times a day.
- Use affirmations to support your positive mindset to achieve your goals. When a positive attitude meets obstacles, the attitude will prevail!
When we are exposed to one new idea only once, statistically, we will forget 98% of that new idea in just over two weeks (16 days). When we are exposed to the new idea five or six times in short order, we retain over 60% of that new idea for a minimum 15 years! How are you using repetition to develop your leadership skills? How are you using repetition to develop your leadership skills?