How Rituals and Routines Can Help You Become a Better Leader

Rituals and routines, done with intention, can help us prepare ourselves to show up emotionally and mentally and lead from a place of power.

The theme of routines and rituals is popping right now. People around the globe are finding that the routines that once worked so well are no longer serving them. Life has changed, and our routines need to change too, if we want to stay on top of our game. 

In today’s episode, co-hosts Richard Lindner and Jeff Mask kick things off by telling a true (and painfully embarrassing) story about how this is actually their second time recording the episode. Why? Because the first attempt was a miserable failure. Why was that? Because, ironically, they went into it without putting in the work of mentally preparing with a routine. It was an hour of their lives that they will never get back, but what an amazing validation of today’s topic.

Listen in for some great tips on implementing routines and rituals into your day so you can be your best for the people you lead. 

What Do You Need in a Ritual or Routine?

As leaders, we need to be present physically, mentally, and emotionally for our team. How do we get there? One way is by implementing rituals and routines that prepare us to perform and give our best. Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What roles do I play where I need to be at the top of my game?
  • Am I at the top of my game right now? If not, why not?
  • How can I get there and what will it look like?

How do we upgrade, level up our routines and rituals to today’s standards? Things are evolving. Our routines/rituals need to evolve with them. We have to be willing and humble and self-aware to know when and how to update them.

Ask yourself: what are my most critical roles in life? What does performing at the highest level look like? What would need to be true in my thoughts, words, and actions to make sure I can perform at the level I need to so the people I lead can create and work and change? 

Are Routines and Rituals Inherently Selfish?

One way of looking at a routine is: how do you take the time to be intentionally selfish so you can ultimately be selfless? You actually do need to be selfish in your routines so they fill you up, put you in the best possible place, so you’re not responding to yourself and your needs when you’re being called to lead someone else.

Jeff brings it back to the oxygen mask analogy once again. When we take care of ourselves by making sure we’re in a high-oxygen environment, what’s the motive? To be able to serve other people. Where this gets misconstrued is where we hear a lot of talk about me time and pampering. That’s okay but to what end? 

When we intentionally invest in ourselves in order to bless the lives of others, that selfishness enables us to be sustainably selfless. When our tank is full and our foundation is solid, we bless people, and receive more oxygen, and it’s this awesome cycle.

You might need me time for a season for healing and regrouping, but then it’s time to take time for yourself in order to bless others.

Rituals and Routines at Work

Richard shares that early on in his executive leadership, he didn’t prepare for meetings in a powerful, meaningful way. One of his biggest breakthroughs was to put in a 15-minute buffer between meetings. He would take that time to review his numbers and ask: what story are they telling, what context needs to be added to tell the actual story, what does he need from the room, and what can he get from the room? 

Showing up like that was more powerful. He started having more of an impact on his peers. He would ask: what do people need to know, think, and feel? He made a concerted effort to think of them, not himself and how he was being perceived. 

What does your audience need? Think of them first. What are they hearing? How am I making their job easier? How am I enabling them to grow? So much of the preparation is a pivot in mindset. Jeff suggests studying anyone you admire personally or professionally. He guarantees they have rituals and routines.

Maybe you’re thinking “I’m not a robotic, rigid, ritualistic person. I’m much more free-flowing, so this doesn’t really connect with me.” Jeff and Richard say that anyone with any personality can apply this concept. You don’t have to do a specific thing at 6:02am each day. It’s all about intentionality and starting with the end in mind. Figuring out how to create an environment that enables that desired end result to be achieved. We have to have intentionality to create a new outcome.

Richard has had the privilege of leading creatives. One of his first sins as a leader was to think that everybody needed to do things exactly like he did. He says it’s important to acknowledge who people are at their core and where their genius is. Creatives need rituals and routines so they can be at their creative best. 

Startup and Shutdown Routines

Jeff has learned that, if he doesn’t do certain things before bed, he doesn’t sleep as well. He’s not as refreshed in the morning. Figure out what works for you, he says. Experiment. Be a scientist. Test a hypothesis. 

Richard has two shutdown routines to take him from work mode to home mode and vice versa. If he doesn’t shut one mode off and turn the other one on, it’s detrimental. There are times he needs to make quick decisions at work, and he needs to be in work mode from the moment he walks in the door. His shutdown routines allow him to transition from one role to the next.

When he closes his day professionally, before he drives home (or walks around the block if he’s working from home), he has routines. The pandemic blurred the lines between work and home. That’s why we’re going through routine/ritual audits. We stopped doing them, and when we started back up again, the world had changed and they no longer worked. 

At the end of the day, how does he prepare to make sure he’s ready the next time he puts his hat back on as professional Richard? He has to close mental doors, go through his calendar for the next day, his inbox, his 3 big initiatives for the day. Did he get done what he needed to? He cleans up his desk a little bit before he leaves so the mess isn’t there when he gets in the next day. He shuts down so he can transition and also be prepared for the next time he steps back into the role so it’s seamless.

How About You?

What are your rituals and routines? What do you need to uplevel? What end do you want to create, and what do you need to change to make that happen?

Before Richard and Jeff do the podcast each week, they pray and ask for divine help so that they’ll have a bigger impact. They also talk about their thematic goal, then 2-5 bullet points, then make sure they’re not too scripted or robotic. They do have intentionality though.

When they hit the red button, during the countdown, they make stupid faces at each other. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they take the show very seriously. If this podcast is just about them, they failed you, the listener. 

They believe they can share their failures and help thousands of leaders not to make the same mistakes. They share honestly so you can learn from them, because it’s not about them. They want to help you be ready to lead. 

Richard and Jeff want to hear from YOU. Was something in today’s episode a big aha moment for you? Anything you disagreed with? What did you learn that you’ve applied to your leadership? Email them here with your thoughts/questions: 


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