Want to break old habits? 16 Ways Leaders Can Enter New Business Practices


When you have been in business for a long time, certain habits remain. Making adjustments to business strategies that are currently working reasonably well may seem unnecessary, but continually working to improve the efficiency of business operations is essential to staying relevant in any industry.

Becoming too complacent with the status quo is dangerous for businesses that want to be sustainable for the long haul, but it’s hard to break bad habits once they’re in place. To help leaders navigate new directions, a panel of Newsweek Expert Forum members each share advice on the steps to take to rethink old habits and establish new ones.

1. Strive to improve business efficiency

We learned that the “old way” sometimes gets in the way of production in our company. We are always looking for ways to reduce time and increase productivity, welcoming new ideas to incorporate into our business to ensure the best strategy for better and more positive customer satisfaction and return on investment for our business. – Tammy Sons, Tennessee Nursery

2. Determine if the habit is still worth it

An important step is for a leader to assess why the old habit exists. Once this is discovered, ask if it exists for the good of the company. If not, it’s time to replace the old habit with a new one. To make the new habit worthwhile, the leader can set up a stack of habits to get results. This will lead to increased productivity and the satisfaction of trying something new. – Nickquolette Barrett, iRock Development Solutions, LLC dba iRock CV

3. Be adaptable to changes

A leader must adapt quickly to change to keep pace with an ever-changing industry. Give yourself more time for reflection and strategy development. You must be willing to take risks while remaining flexible enough to adapt on the fly if necessary. You also need to be open-minded enough to realize that not everything will work out, but it can lay the groundwork for better ideas later. – Andres Bustillo, Andres Bustillo, MD FACS

4. Remember that discomfort is part of growing up

I think it’s important to remember that being uncomfortable is a sign of growth. It can be a hard feeling to bear as we become experts and leaders in our fields, but it’s better than remaining complacent, which is a proven recipe for stagnation. -Umang Modi, TIAG, Inc.

5. Hire an expert

Hire an operations consultant to provide a review. Having a professional from outside your organization analyze your practices will not only help ensure that you are operating effectively, but can also provide new strategies that can be implemented to increase efficiency. – LaKesha Womack, Womack Consulting Group

6. Keep changes small, manageable and trackable

Unlearning is difficult. It is not the actual change that brings us in, but the messy environment. Make the habit change small and manageable. Make it a daily goal to do one thing that aligns with this new habit. And when you reach that mini goal, document it and celebrate! Tracking and celebrating your success will motivate you to keep going. You have this! – Joyel Crawford, Crawford Leadership Strategies, LLC

7. Seize opportunities that broaden your perspective

Be sure to allow enough time for research and development. Random encounters and chance encounters can make indelible differences. I’ve recruited people off the buffet lines, met future leaders because I’ve interviewed someone who wasn’t cut out for the job at hand, and tested and honed my perspective by traveling and reading outside of my domain. – Alexa Kimball, Harvard Medical School physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess

8. Use personal development resources

Always have at least one self-help book in your reading mix. Not a reader? Have a personal development podcast in the mix. And by personal development, include anything focused on self-care, your business niche, professional development, and more. Choose a source that nurtures your spirit rather than numbing it. – Chris Tompkins, The Go! Agency

9. Cultivate an inquisitive mindset

I think it is very important to cultivate open-mindedness by being curious through continuous learning. Conditions are constantly changing, as is the cumulative wealth of your knowledge gained through experience. Be ready to let go of anything that no longer serves you, just like an impatient child who takes the training wheels off his bike and journeys to become a world-class racer. – Margie Kiesel, Avaneer Health

10. Be a transparent leader

Being transparent as a leader opens you up to honest dialogue, open communication, and trust with your team. Creating this feeling of openness and willingness to learn will allow you to be flexible, resilient and adaptable to new habits. – Kathy Leake, Crux Intelligence

11. Ask stakeholders for feedback

Ask your most trusted stakeholders who believe in you and will be candid with you for feedback. Say, “In the future, what three positive, observable behaviors I could consistently engage in and three negative, observable behaviors I could completely stop doing that would increase your confidence, assertiveness, and respect, as well as those of others? -Mark Goulston, Mark Goulston, MD, Inc.

12. Create Review Committees

I created an executive committee to monthly discuss our team’s strengths and weaknesses, review current and future plans, and conduct employee evaluations. It usually helps bring new ideas to the table and correct old habits that can be improved constructively. – Raquel Olivier, The Incorporated Olivier

13. Make intentional changes

Intentionally change things to gradually change your personal habits for the better. For example, if you tend to check your phone during meetings, it can be an irritant to your co-workers but a hard habit to break. Start by consciously leaving your phone at your desk before heading to the meeting or, at a minimum, laying your phone face down rather than face up on the conference table. -Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

14. Record Events and Occurrences Regularly

Keep a routine log of events and happenings, equivalent to a diary. Look back once in a while. You’ll find that quite often the way things happened in your memory and the way they actually happened are a bit different. When something works out in the end, we tend to forget the path that got us there, and a journal can help you keep improving and relearning. – Judah Engelmayer, Herald PR

15. Look to future goals to guide you

Most leaders want to hire talent with future skills. However, they rarely rate themselves accordingly. Asking the question of what you need to do today to be relevant in 10 years is a simple way to have a look at reality. It’s even better if you invite a thinking partner to challenge you in this area. – Inga Arianna Bielinska, Inga Arianna Bielinska

16. Stay aware of yourself

It’s important to remember that not all habits are bad – most of us thrive on routine – and many of our actions are automatic. Self-awareness is essential. Look at what isn’t working for you personally and professionally, then assess what contributed to those results. It’s the first step in creating new habits and systems that will hopefully bring you closer to your goals. – Jacob Kupietzky, HCT Executive Interim Management & Consulting


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