Part II- A few Essential Habits for Success: If how you communicate determines your leadership abilities, then leadership also requires keystone habits. Keystone habits are critical actions that support other successful habits. Why concern yourself with the keystone habits of a principal and high school football coach? These habits are the cornerstone to being successful personally and professionally.
“When I was younger, I didn’t attend those national educational conferences; but once I started, I always made a point of attending them,” states Ken Tucker. “Those conferences were great; you learned so much. I remember this one presentation, which discussed activities for developing leadership skills in students. What do you think the speaker said was the number one activity to develop leadership skills? Sports? Volunteering? Nope. Both were rated high on the list, but the speakers asserted that the best activity for developing leadership skills was having a lead in a play. A lead in a play forces a student to assume a leadership role and further develop their communication skills. I don’t know if it is true, but I always encouraged my players to try out for the plays. While I only had one player do so, I realized that I could take my lessons from coaching and apply it to being a principal. I believed strongly in hiring good people and getting out of their way.” In a way, Ken placed his staff in lead roles in the school system. Abraham Lincoln is quoted saying, ‘I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.’ Ken is demonstrating a keystone habit of leaders, continual self improvement.
Ken tells a story of a life committed to self improvement and life-long learning. By exposing yourself to new information and different perspectives, you can more fully develop and challenge your existing framework (i.e. your map of the world). And here’s the key, leaders take new information and see how it can be applied in practical ways that fits their world. Ken commented, “In fact, I eventually presented at one of those national conferences on the transferability of coaching and executive management.”
Ken continues with another lesson, “When I was a principal, I insisted upon scheduling uninterrupted time. I was not supposed to be disturbed during these times. No calls, No meetings. I was supposed to be unavailable, unless it was an emergency. Of course, I had many emergencies during the school day, but I at least had some time when I could focus my attention on a priority.”
Ken is echoing another key habit. In Chet Holmes book, The Ultimate Sales Machine, he also implemented a strategy to end “got-a-minute” meeting by mandating uninterrupted blocks of time. Ken almost echoes Chet Holmes’ words of scheduling “uninterrupted time, and under no circumstance, unless an absolute emergency,” can this time be interrupted. In the chapter called, Time Management Secrets of Billionaires, Chet Holmes further describes that one of the six key habits of excellent time management is prioritization. Ken is sharing an essential keystone habit of time management that is scheduling uninterrupted time for priority tasks (which are usually related to long-term goals), but not necessarily urgent issues. This is how you accomplish long-term goals.
These are just a few of the keystone habit shared by Ken Tucker. Read Part III: The Power of Routines to really understand how to turn simple habits into routines that in turn can affect the culture of your business.