Good to Great Strategies – #2

Micro-Initiatives Create a Macro-Impact

The last Coach’s Corner entry was about the small activities that can have a major influence. Here is another subset of the 108 strategies from Leading with Emotional Intelligence. You demonstrate your Emotional Intelligence in moments and usually in relationships. In our goal to be less automatic and more conscious and emotionally intelligent, below are some more small actions that can help you be more in charge of your contributions and your life.

These initiatives don’t take a lot of time but are crucial habits for great leaders. The average or good leaders could do them, but don’t as they are often neglected in favor of the immediate crisis. Remember Zenger and Folkman found that doing five things really well put a leader in the top 10%. Micro-initiatives make a major impact; or:


When you raise your EI awareness it helps you be more responsible. “Responsible” broken up means “able to respond.” So, the more aware you are, the more choices, strategies and responses you will have to be a top 10% performer. Below are a few more examples of the “degree of difference” in time and action that separates the great leader from the good leader.

Average to good leader with a poor performance issue with direct report:

John is not performing like I would like him to. “John, let’s make sure you do everything to get this right, OK?”

Time = 2 seconds

Great leader with a poor performance issue with a direct report:

John is not performing like I would like him to. “John, let’s spend time going over the next assignment together. You haven’t been performing like I know you can and I want to help. You have always been meeting expectations, so lets’ set a time to tell me what is going on here. I’m sure we can come up with a plan that will make a difference to you. When can you meet?”

Time = 18 seconds

Average to good leader on self-management:

Thinking to self: “I better work through lunch because I am behind and can catch up if I eat at my computer.”

Time recharging = 4 minutes

Great leader on self-management:

Thinking to self: “I am feeling tired and need to recharge. Going to lunch will help keep things in perspective and I will come back refreshed and better able to deal with these next challenges.

Time recharging = 45-60 minutes

Average to good leader on managing up with boss:

Thinking to self: “I am not sure what she thinks of me or how I am doing. I know she is very busy and probably doesn’t need another interruption. I’ll stay away unless she needs something from me.”

Time with boss = 15 minutes informally through the week

Great leader on managing up with boss:

Thinking to self: “I am not sure what she thinks of me or how I am doing. I will schedule some time with her and clarify expectations and make sure I am doing what she wants. It will also give me some visibility on my projects. Scheduling a weekly check-in is something that will help me. I will take the initiative to create the agenda and keep the meeting focused. I will also update her on my projects with an email status if that will help her, so I don’t take too much of her time.”

Time with boss = 30 minutes weekly

Time creating email summary = 25 minutes

If you are not doing these micro-initiatives, these examples can help get you started. Add actions that will move you closer to your goals. As you can see, none of these actions are especially demanding or challenging. When done as a part of an overall leadership strategy, these micro-initiatives add up to a winning difference. Stars make a habit of doing what the average performer is uncomfortable doing.

For many leaders a few actions will be the “degree of difference” that transforms them into Stars. I like to tell leaders that they are more than likely 85% there already. We are looking for these few actions that will push them into the 90th and above percentile. These small but crucial moves are mere 5-7% changes, which will help put leaders in the top 10%. This knowledge and awareness makes the process seem easier and builds motivation to act and incorporate these micro-initiatives into their lives.


  • How many of these can you start implementing immediately?
  • How can you keep track of which ones you did?
  • How will you measure your successes?
  • Who will be the first to notice these small changes?
  • What will they see?
  • What will be the impact on them?

Are you a great leader?




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