I’ve had an unusual request come to me so often from some of my readers that I have to address it. And I’m going to do it right here, in this week’s Leading Thoughts!

The request that I’ve had is this: Tell us the most practical things—from health matters to travel matters to inspiring people—that you do in your life of leadership.

Okay, here goes.

  • When I sit at my desk chair or on a plane or train for many hours, I sit on a tennis ball. I move that ball around the backs of my thighs, around my bottom, and all up and down my back. I keep the ball in each new place for five or ten minutes. This is like a slow massage all day. It undoes knots. It moves blood. It dramatically reduces the damage of sitting and of tension.
  • I drink a huge amount of water. Much as I can. There are too many benefits to describe here. You just want to do this.
  • Workout in the morning. Unless you have an appointment late in the day for a game of some sort, you are fifty percent more likely not to get that workout in late in the day. Workout in the morning. It’s also better for your health. Your body will be adjusting all day to the demand you placed on it.
  • Give people in your firm gift certificates for dinners or fun nights out whenever warranted. Birthdays, anniversaries, births, promotions—even when you think they just need encouragement. Sometimes give cash. Know the birthdays of spouses and smaller children. People remember this all their lives.
  • Put job descriptions and performance goals in writing. Have them signed. Review them often.
  • Have a reading program. Make it part of performance goals. So many books a year and then there is a benefit of some kind. You can add to this listening to podcasts. Massive difference in motivation and performance when something like this is in place.
  • Don’t cuss. It adds nothing, may offend, and reduces how you are perceived though people will rarely ever say anything. No one thinks you are uncool if you don’t cuss. No one thinks you are cool if you do cuss. Some might just think you are crass and insensitive.
  • Tell people you work with what you want long term and then let them help figure out how to get you there. “Ultimately, I’ll want our website to be managed in house. What are the steps that get us there?” Most leaders talk short term. Talk long term and turn your people’s gifts loose.
  • Touch people appropriately. I’m a man, so I slap men on the back or grab a shoulder. I put a tight, big brotherly side neck hug on younger men. I touch women lightly on the upper back or upper arm just to reassure or express appropriate affection. Sometimes I do it to emphasize my confidence in them when we are being challenged. Nothing sexual. Nothing inappropriate. Just human warmth and professional acceptance expressed through touch. Master the arts. Keep it clean.
  • Finally, plan listening. Have suggestion boxes—physical or digital. Have meetings where you say, “I’m going shut up and you tell me what I need to know.” Give prizes for the best ideas for improving things. Teach listening skills to your execs. I lead the folks I work with but they are smarter than I am. If I’ll shut up, genius boils to the surface.

That’s it. Back to normal next week.