The truism in teaching is that teachers learn as much from their students as the students learn from their teachers.  The same is true for executive coaching.  Below are Seven (Plus) Habits I have learned from my high performing clients. Read through the list and consider what others habits you have learned or want to emulate from high performers in your environment.


  1. Be a force for focus. This leader habit relates to having a low tolerance for BS and naming the real issue that people are dancing around.  When we experience this habit it can be incredibly refreshing.
  2. Hold self and others to high standards of work. This fosters not only great work product but also a sense of pride in the work that is done.  No “mailing it in” tolerated.
  3. Play with the company name on the back of the jersey. This leader habit puts the success of the total organization ahead of the individual or team goals.  It seems common sense but seems to not be as common as one would hope.
  4. Put in the hours alongside your team – and then take a break. This leader habit has two parts: showing the team that the boss is working hard too (putting in the project hours, removing obstacles, being a resource) and then allowing the group to some time to recover before the next wave.
  5. Build great teams — in advance. This leader habit is about always planning ahead for the future team.  This leader keeps a great network of people inside and outside the organization and has a feel for where they are in their career and circumstances.  He also has regular conversations with individuals on the team about their development plans and goals.  That allows him to have a flexible approach to changes and not get caught by surprise.
  6. Be enthusiastic. This leader habit is not just about being positive, that is important too.  Enthusiasm has to do with having energy, drive and excitement when things are going great AND when there are challenges.  Being a source of enthusiasm leads to better ideas, better team work and a sense of urgency.
  7. Be the rock. People look to leaders to be steady and gain confidence from continuity.  This leader habit is all about making clear plans with the team and driving the plan steadily over time.
  8. Take the complicated and make it easy to understand. This leader habit is about making strategies and concepts accessible to the team.  Clear concepts, diagrams, metaphors, examples, stories (especially stories) take the mystery out of strategy and big picture concepts.  Strategy does not just live in the leader’s office, but needs to be something the entire team gets.
  9. Encourage “both and” thinking. This habit helps move people out of restricting “either or” thinking and helps them embrace the inevitable paradoxes of business and think more broadly.