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No snooze button on the alarm. Great leaders activate themselves and their teams starting first thing in the morning. Personally and professionally, men and women. Even those who are not “morning people” have a routine that starts earlier rather than later. And there is a persistent pattern. Organized.

Power up

They are early risers. In time to greet spouses, children, and other household members, including pets. Having breakfast together with conversations about “What’s up for you today?” is important.

Most prefer a healthy, nutritional breakfast – even if it is fast. And these leaders tend to drink a lot of water throughout the day.

Many leaders arise early enough to work out at home or nearby before breakfast. An aerobic sweat relieves and prevents stress. Another stress managing and mind-clearing routine for some is morning meditation time.

On the road again

Getting to work opens opportunities for a fast start. If by car, strong leaders listen to audio books. They are life-long learners to improve their leadership skills. Some will handle early phone calls (hands-free, of course).

If traveling by bus, train, and air, many will read and handle business-related files of information. More digital, less paper.

The point is that true leaders maximize their mornings for a better business day.

Point of order

The majority of excellent leaders begin their days with a prioritized list of the most important activities and actions for them and their teams. Some items are follow-ups on decisions and actions. Other things in the list are new. All are must-dos on the priority list. Few are want-to-dos. None are nice-to-dos.

A sampling suggests that the best leaders keep this list short. It contains both broad strategic actions and near-term tactical activities.

The key question is, “Will each item in the list contribute to a substantive improvement in the business?”

Kickoff time

Either at the office or by remote audio/visual meeting systems, leaders start the day with a fast check-in for their team. The prioritized list is discussed, an agreement is gained, and actions assigned.

Some leaders hold a longer staff meeting on Monday’s to dispel the “Monday morning blues,” and get the team focused on the positive opportunities of the week ahead. A great week. Then, individual sessions with staff members is normal – and necessary.

Get to work, everyone.

Practices make perfect

There is more. Other leaders have additional practices they use at the start of their workday, including:

  • Greet others in the organization with their name and a smile.
  • Add to a daily journal and gratitude list, read some past pages.
  • Visualize success with dreams, purpose, and goals.
  • Get on the phone for a few minutes with a good mentor.
  • Get organized, clear the desk, and communicate with an assistant.
  • Read an inspiring article or pages from a book.
  • Leave time for unexpected events because they will happen.
  • Take on toughest challenges first.
  • Kill unimportant, non-urgent emails.
  • Communicate some useful news to the organization.

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” – William Arthur Ward

The bottom line

Kill the alarm. Get up, work out, greet family, eat a good breakfast. Get to work. Prioritize the day, communicate with the team, and take action. Use early hours productively. Get inspired and give inspiration. Be grateful. Have a great day.