The Best Way To Break A Bad Leadership Habit Quickly And Permanently

Anyone who’s tried to break a bad habit knows how hard it is. And the older we get and the longer our habits persist, the harder it gets.

Most of us in leadership have at least one bad professional habit. Maybe you check your messages constantly. Or you might be known for being 10 minutes late to every meeting. Maybe you work through every weekend, hold negative thoughts, or mix too much personal business into the workday. Whatever your bad habit, putting an end to it will greatly improve your life and your leadership.

As an executive coach I have helped countless leaders eliminate their bad habits. Here’s how we do it:

Identify and prioritize. Decide what habit you want to break. If you have more than one, prioritize them and choose what to tackle first. Once you’ve decided, work to stay aware of your habit. Note when it occurs and how it plays out. Then begin thinking about how it started and why it persists. Ask yourself what needs to change.

Recognize your scripts. Habits come with a cognitive script—the unconscious automatic thoughts we have in certain situations. Those scripts are rooted in past experiences and become so ingrained that we don’t even think about them. Pay close attention to your scripts and think about alternatives.

Create a plan. Making any serious change requires a plan. Goals, roadmaps and rewards are all highly motivating. Decide in advance how you’ll maintain the self-discipline to stay on track.

Set an end date. When you set a specific date for your official break, your plan begins to become real and you can work backward to prepare. Then when the day arrives, you’ll feel motivated, excited and ready to be successful.

Replace your bad habit with a good habit. Decide on a specific behavior and thought pattern that will replace the habit you’re breaking. Be as consistent as you can, especially in the beginning. It takes an average of 66 days for a new habit to become permanent. But that means that in about two months, you can be enjoying the change you made.

Reward yourself. Remember to reward yourself for every success. As much as you’re comfortable, involve others in your efforts. Other people automatically bring accountability, and they can help motivate you and keep you on track.

Breaking a habit will never be easy. But if you can learn to recognize what you want to change, analyze its origins, and make a plan for change, you never have to feel limited by your bad habits.

Lead from within: Especially for leaders, good habits are the key to success and bad habits open the door to problems and challenges.


#1 N A T I O N A L  B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness


After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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