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Build or Break Leadership Habits, by changing your visual cues

Have you experienced situations like these?

  • You see a chocolate or some chips as you go to the kitchen. You have it even though you do not really need it.

  • You keep your car key or house key near to the door. You pick it up automatically as you go out.

  • You are in the supermarket queuing for the checkout and you see some of your favourite items displayed near the till and you add it to your basket or trolley.

  • You are on a highway; the highway restaurants have someone waving at you with a board that says “Meals Ready” and you stop there.

What is happening here?

Making things visible usually leads to influencing subsequent actions.

Visual cues are great catalysts for our behavior.

If that is the case, can we create new habits through visual cues? The research says YES.

Every habit is initiated by a cue and visual stimuli is a powerful cue.

Ensure that the cues that lead to good habits are obvious in your environment.

For example,

  • Keep the medicine cabinet box near the dining table if to be the medicines taken before or after a meal

  • Keep water bottles in every room so that they prompt you to drink water regularly.

  • Keep a book next to your bed if you wish to cultivate a reading habit so that you automatically pick it up and start reading it in bed.

  • You acknowledge a colleague by keeping an acknowledgement note next to your laptop

Now, the reverse of this psychology also holds true. Making the cues invisible can help to stop undesirable habits.

  • Hiding the chocolates, hiding the cigarettes can help in reducing of the consumption of both

  • Deleting your favorite shopping app can help avoid impulse buying

The above article is inspired by the book,Atomic Habits by James Clear and I encourage you to read this book. It is one of the best books I have read on building or breaking habits.

Leadership is also about influencing people to start habits which can help in their progress or stop undesirable habits which hinder their progress, both in their personal and professional lives.

  • How can you remember to appreciate your team regularly?

  • What can you do to send out the status report to the customer before you leave for the day?

  • How can you remember to network/speak with one person in the office during the day?

What visual cues can you use for the above or similar situations?

Author: Johncey George is an International Coaching Federation certified Leadership and Life Coach. He focuses on working with Introvert Professionals, helping them grow as leaders by unleashing their potential.

He helps introverts celebrate their strengths and become successful as leaders. Being an introvert himself, he understands their thinking process. He combines this knowledge, his corporate leadership experience and his coaching experience to help create more leaders among the Introverts.

Johncey has 23 years of corporate leadership experience and done his BE and Management Education from IIM Bangalore, Harvard Business School, ISB Hyderabad.

His company, Johncey George Consulting Pvt Ltd, does Leadership Development through Coaching, under the brand Coach Johncey (

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