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9 Proven Habits That All High-Performance Leaders Have, That You Can Master Too

Louise Mathias is a Barrister (Lawyer), Mediator (Harvard), certified High-Performance and Emotional Intelligence Coach and a Dare To Lead™ consultant (Brené Brown). She is based in Sydney, Australia and works with clients worldwide.

 
Executive Contributor Louise Mathias

Louise Mathias focuses on the practical application of high performance, emotional intelligence, and Dare to Lead (Brene Brown) practices. These practices are designed to strategically boost conflict resolution, leadership, teams, business performance, well-being, and results, empowering you to implement them professionally and personally.

 

Athlete woman doing high jump

As a Barrister (lawyer), I was asked to attend a meeting with a Director. I was a contractor for four months (in a non-end-date contract).

 

The Director started her conversation with me by asking, “How are you finding everything.? and “How do you find working with [colleague X]?”

 

When I was first engaged in the role, she said, “I don’t like [colleague X]; I am looking to get rid of him.”

 

I replied to her question, “I can’t speak highly enough of [colleague X]; he has been a team player and a delight to work with.”

 

She said, “ I hope you both can continue with the same arrangement going forward if that fits for both of you.”

 

Yes, of course”, I said.

 

Then, an unexpected mixed message followed.

 

She said, “I’ve formed a managerial view that there is a lack of collegiality with you and [another colleague Y], and I think it's going to impact your future.”

 

I knew she had lost her way as a leader because she was leading by assumption, thinking she had all the answers. She didn’t ask any questions, falling into the trap of feeling like she knew people, situations, and where people were. She wasn’t curious, which always leads to a significant leadership mess.

 

To say I was blindsided is an understatement; I hadn’t been invited to any behind-the-back conversations, and I had met with [colleague Y] for coffee three days prior, and nothing was said or alluded to.

 

I asked the Director, “I’d like to meet—colleague Y, you, and I—to discuss it face-to-face as a team and resolve the issue?”

 

She said, “I don’t have a diary in front of me, but if you suggest a couple of dates, I’ll see what becomes available.”

 

When I proposed dates/times, both the director and colleague Y (who subsequently took over the Director role) were silent. I never discovered what the issue was.

 

Micromanagement, know-it-all thinking, assumptions, disempowerment, and other toxic behaviours occur repeatedly when leaders fail to learn and develop the necessary high-road—high-performance leadership skills and lead with values, putting people first. Most leaders start with good intentions but become distracted. They lose sight of what’s best for the people and what’s required to bring them together; they divide people and seldom hold themselves accountable for what they’ve done, are doing, or need to become and this results in them working out their lack of competency, or their internal wars, out on others…they harm others.


Everyone deserves to take charge of themselves, lead their best lives and lead others effectively in safe, high-performing environments, not working their weaknesses and internal wars out on others; we can do better. Everything in conflict resolution, life and business rises and falls on leadership.

 

Leadership starts with self-leadership.

 

What makes leaders rise?

Next-level leadership skills, habits, and values. Put these together, and rising is inevitable.

 

The next level of high-performance leadership recipe itself (which equally applies to teams and businesses too) is simple:

 

  • You need clear, specific stretch goals (short and long-term) and a roadmap - with deadlines.

  • You need new proven habits and skills to help you reach those goals while not sacrificing what matters most.

  • You must take consistent daily action outside of what feels ordinary or comfortable.

 

That’s it.

 

Athlete woman on finish line

And if you want to become a next-level high-performance leader, here’s the easiest way – learning and implementing these nine scientifically proven habits:

 

1. Seek clarity

The better you know yourself and the more authentic you are to yourself, the greater your success. Seeking clarity on who you want to be in the future, what you want, what is meaningful to you, how you want to lead, and how you want to interact? It’s impossible to have clear priorities or the motivation to keep going if you don’t have clarity. Self-awareness is the first component of emotional intelligence.

 

2. Growth mindset

When you change your thinking, you change your beliefs, which are nothing more than a by-product of what you have thought about long enough to become a conviction. Your actions are the best interpreters of your thoughts. The process is very simple: think—feel—act. You are where you are today because your thoughts have taken you there. Nothing limits achievements like problem-focused, small thinking. Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.

 

3. Emotional intelligence

The number one challenge to making changes is how you feel. It's because of some emotion that’s dominating you: maybe insecurity, fear, anxiety, confusion, envy, nostalgia, sadness, or winning.

 

You can control your feelings by controlling your thoughts, but very few people control their thinking, so they fail to control their lives, leadership, and overcome challenges. You’re in charge of how you think and feel.

 

4. Generate energy

Too often, high achievers blame their low energy on “this is who I am” or “I’m under so much stress with the high demands of my role/profession/company/ culture/personal obligations.” Generating mental, physical and emotional energy to maintain focus, effort and well-being so you stay on your A-game.

 

5. Raise your necessity

Necessity is the emotional drive that makes excellent performance a MUST instead of just a preference. It means actively tapping into the reasons WHY you absolutely MUST perform well. It demands that you take action and get things done because you have to; there’s not much choice. It’s the right thing to do, and if you didn’t do it, you’d feel bad about yourself. If an internal standard for excellence makes high performance a necessity, then the internal force of curiosity makes it enjoyable.

 

6. Increase productivity

One of the most challenging situations is working so hard for so long, constantly feeling behind and overwhelmed, and it has become workaholism, creating work-home conflict, which hurts everyone. It's crucial to differentiate between simply getting things done and achieving high-performance productivity, which focuses on prolific quality output, which means having the ability to minimise distractions (including opportunities) that steal your attention and time. Productivity starts with goals and maintaining your energy and focus, otherwise you’ll be constantly struggling. Slow down, be more strategic and take ownership of our day.

 

7. Develop influence

Connection | positively relating to humans = influence, strongly correlated with the feeling you’re making a difference. You can’t influence people by diminishing them, creating a perfectionist blame culture, putting them down, micromanaging them, pointing fingers, avoiding hard conversations or needs, not taking responsibility for mistakes made, or blocking others' success. The issue of retaining and attracting top talent is non-existent for influential leaders; people want to work with leaders who make them feel capable, listen, and challenge them to think bigger and grow more, as they support their and others’ success.

 

8. Demonstrate courage

Courage is the cornerstone habit of high performance. It doesn’t mean you have to save the world; it may mean taking the first step in an unpredictable situation, i.e. speaking up, doing something that feels uncomfortable, doing something new, even when you feel fear. Courage is more than overcoming fear; it’s having a bias toward taking action even when the outcome is scary, risky or uncertain. It's related to having a growth mindset, believing you can make mistakes, improve, take on and love challenges, and engage with difficulty rather than run from it. You will make it through.

 

9. Humility

Thinking you’re special, better than, or more important than others because you outperform many is a way of thinking you must avoid at all costs. Superiority has no positive connection to a healthy mind. You may not be demonstrating a grandiose ego, but there are 100s shades and degrees of superiority. Have you recently thought that some people you work with are stupid idiots and that your ideas are always better? Not willing to hear feedback or guidance, ask for help, or seek out diverse viewpoints from people at all levels because you think you know it all? Yes, this qualifies. When we aren’t humble, we soon begin acting like jerks, lose our ability to appreciate other contributions, and destroy any sense of connection and teamwork.

 

This isn’t some “not everyone can do this”

You can do this; many like you have done it before you. You need enough curiosity to learn, the self-awareness to know your limitations and that you can’t do it alone—otherwise, you would already be doing it—the support you need to take consistent bold action, and the commitment to be persistent to build skills and habits that are deliberate, observable, trainable, and effective across all areas of life. Then, you develop others around you.

 

If you have these skills and habits, keep following them.

 

Or don’t and accept your rise and performance will stall at mediocre.

 

It’s time to recognise that you need to be as persistent in pursuing confident, people-focused high-performing leaders and teams or in resolving conflict…t as you are in pursuing your product, services, or technical skills.

 

Confidence is the secret ingredient that makes you rise to the challenge to go to the ‘next level.” Don’t just hope to arrive somewhere someday and think you’ll finally be satisfied and happy. Strive for it now.

 

Start your rise to the next level with the free Leadership Clarity Training here. If you’d like to learn more about Louise and the services she offers globally, click here.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Louise Mathias, The Confident Leader Blueprint

Louise Mathias is a Barrister (Lawyer), Mediator (Harvard), certified High-Performance and Emotional Intelligence Coach and a Dare To Lead™ consultant (Brené Brown). She is based in Sydney, Australia and works with clients worldwide.

 

She helps female professionals rise to the top 1% of leaders without sacrificing what matters most, ensuring sustained success without stress. Louise also specialises in helping lawyers and workplaces resolve conflicts with a human-centric and emotionally intelligent approach.

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