9 Micro-Habits for Better Leadership

A masterpiece is painted with tiny brushstrokes

Max Klein
6 min readJan 25, 2021


Photo Credit: OPOLJA on Shutterstock

I’ve found in life that the simplest advice is often the most powerful and that small habits you adopt paint the big picture of who you are. This observation holds true with leadership.

Admiral William McRaven, in his commencement speech to the graduates at The University of Texas, said:

“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another.”

This isn’t the first wise human I’ve heard extolling the virtues of the habit of making your bed. One of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life includes keeping your house in order and making your bed.

This got me thinking. I’ve studied and practiced leadership for over 20 years and much ado is made over the large leadership brushstrokes like “lead by example” and “don’t micromanage.”

But what about the little ones — those tiny habits like making your bed that can be the icing on your leadership cake?

Here are 10 mini brushstrokes of habit that can help paint a better picture of your leadership, perhaps even a masterpiece someday.

#1. Give Someone Genuine Appreciation

A Clear Review study showed that “lack of appreciation” is the #1 frustration for employees. 40% of all employees polled said giving appreciation just wasn’t a priority for their bosses.

Not everyone needs a pat on the back, but true appreciation unleashes in many people a desire to excel so why wouldn’t leaders prioritize it? After all, a leader can do nothing without their people. Appreciation recognizes this fact.

Always be sure to only give credit, praise, or appreciation when deserved. And only with 100% sincerity, otherwise, it becomes counterproductive and dishonest.

“Tend to the people, and they will tend to the business.” — John Maxwell

#2. Shorten That Meeting