What the Best Leaders Know About The Power of Repetition

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Sometimes it can seem that finding the right leadership action to solve a problem is like pure guess-work.

But at other times, faced with a challenge, you will almost instinctively reach for just the right leadership action and achieve tremendous results.

The difference often comes down to muscle memory.

And it’s a principle that can make a huge difference in a leader’s effectiveness, and even enjoyment.

Muscle memory, of course, is a principle of physiology, that points to the body’s remarkable ability to “remember”, and in effect, to automate, certain actions. The key is to have these actions repeated over. And over. And over. And over.

And over.

A beginning pianist must concentrate on correctly hitting each key on the keyboard. But after hours and hours of repetition this becomes almost automatic. That’s muscle memory.

A beginning tennis player must concentrate on correctly hitting the ball each time it crosses the net. But after hours and hours of repetition this becomes almost automatic. That’s muscle memory.

Muscle memory works the same way in leadership.

A beginning leader must concentrate on correctly responding to each challenge. But after repeatedly facing and responding to similar challenges, this too becomes almost automatic. This too is a form of muscle memory.

When you have repeatedly flexed the right leadership muscles, over time you just find yourself hitting the right note.

It’s all about making sure you are focusing on mastering the right leadership disciplines. In the most effective leaders I know, these are some of those core disciplines that they seem to repeat over and over and over.

  • Self-leadership

    • Over and over and over, effective leaders find ways to sharpen their leadership.
  • Developing people

    • Effective leaders just keep equipping people and giving them new opportunities.
  • Setting direction

    • This never gets old for effective leaders. They relentlessly communicate the vision.
  • Decision making

    • The more leaders make decisions, the better they get. Effective leaders drive as many decisions as possible.
  • Culture building

    • Creating a healthy culture is something of an obsession for effective leaders. And they keep at it all the time.

The key is to maintain the discipline of relentless repetition. Just keep on developing self-leadership. Keep on developing people, and setting direction. Keep on driving decisions, and building a healthy culture.

Because over time, the results will start to become almost automatic.

And when that starts to happen, the endless repetition will be all worth it.


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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