The Daily Habits That Make Chicago C-Suite Leaders Successful

Sometimes, a small mindset shift can lead to remarkable results.

Published on May. 17, 2023
The Daily Habits That Make Chicago C-Suite Leaders Successful
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 The test of a great leader may be the performance of their team, but that success has to start with a strong individual foundation.

Leaders that strive to bring their best selves to work and maintain a commitment to their core values help inspire employees to do the same. Their actions and priorities shape a company’s culture — and when they set a positive example, it sets the stage for others to excel as well. 

Of course, it’s easy for these lofty ideas to get lost amid the daily responsibilities of hiring and firing, budgeting, managing direct reports and meeting with the higher-ups, which is why taking the time to reflect is so important.

Studies have shown that self-reflection can have a positive impact on leaders’ motivation and performance at work, both reinforcing the goals they’re pursuing and reminding them of all the progress they and their teams have made along the way.

Built In Chicago caught up with two of the city’s most accomplished tech leaders to dig into the habits, rituals and principles underpinning their unique approaches. Read on to hear how executives from Atlas and FourKites foster environments of consistent improvement for both themselves and those around them.

Fab Brasca
Chief Strategy Officer • FourKites

FourKites provides real-time supply chain visibility and predictive analytics.

Describe one of the principles, habits or rituals that differentiates your unique approach to leadership. What is it? When did you start doing this?

I view leadership as the ability to inspire beyond direct reporting lines and grow an organization to achieve something greater. While no one will live up to these principles 100 percent of the time, the following have helped me in my career:

 

Leadership Principles

  1. Look beyond my metrics. Being aware and empathetic to other functional areas creates cohesion and unity. Leaving that type of thinking to levels higher in the organization is myopic — collaborating at all levels will drive more agility and resilience.
  2. Think beyond my tenure. It is the responsibility of every leader to develop talent both within and outside their functional purview. That is what creates truly sustainable success. 
  3. Create trust through transparency. Providing transparency around decision-making and priorities gives individuals context and meaning to what they are doing. It also creates an environment of participation and joint ownership.
  4. Promote a growth mindset. Leaders must lead by example, help employees turn shortcomings into improvement, think beyond their current capabilities, set a high bar and drive focus. Allow teams to stretch and grow, but provide a safe environment to take risks and receive timely feedback.

What differences did you notice after you adopted this new principle, habit or ritual in your leadership? 

There are a number of benefits that I have observed as a result of my approach. One is the creation of a team and the development of individuals that become more agile and resilient. Organizations, especially in today’s rapidly evolving environment, are under some level of constant duress. Teams and individuals have more grit and determination when they feel connected with their leader in a deeper way.

The biggest difference I noticed beyond the ability of my teams to deliver sustained value is the growth in individual success, not only within my organization but their career success beyond.  In practical terms, I have seen two measurable results: A very low turnover rate and a high degree of career advancement for those that aspire to it.

 

What does this approach to leadership help you and your teams accomplish?

I see this approach driving two significant outcomes:

Consistent delivery and improvement. My teams have always delivered a consistent level of high performance and have been well-regarded cross-functionally.

Organizational depth. My approach very much focuses on personal development, and I have seen a high degree of promotability out in the organization resulting in strong organizational depth. It has also had the personal benefit of always enabling strong succession planning, allowing me to stretch, grow and do new and interesting things.

 

 

Anthony Smith
Chief Operating Officer • Atlas

Atlas helps companies hire and pay global talent.

 

Describe one of the principles, habits or rituals that differentiates your unique approach to leadership. What is it? When did you start doing this?

In 2020, when COVID changed the world we lived in, I felt a sense of emptiness in my day-to-day impact. Leadership books like The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People all talk about small and consistent changes. This is when I put a reminder on my phone each morning at 7 a.m. with a question: “What are you going to be most proud of today?” 

That simple reminder makes me reflect on the challenges and needs of each day and how I can ensure that when I shut my laptop or lay my head down on my pillow at night, I feel — and, most importantly, my team feels — accomplished.

I put a reminder on my phone each morning at 7 a.m. with a question: ‘What are you going to be most proud of today?’


What differences did you notice after you adopted this new principle, habit or ritual in your leadership? 

I began stopping for moments each day to reflect on what I needed to achieve to feel accomplished. So many times, we just jump out of bed, open the laptop, and finish the day's work. This slight shift brought me to a new level in strategic thinking. 

At first, it was minimal and most likely unnoticeable changes. Most were very tactical, like “I'm going to finish this presentation I've been working on for weeks.” Or “I’m going to start the strategic plan for XX.” Then it turned into more significant impact items. Most recently, I decided that every Friday, I would email my direct leaders at the end of the day and let them know what I was thankful for during the week and what impact I saw them make. 

I often relate it to a personal initiative, such as time with my family or something physical, like running a certain number of miles in the day. After all, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of and help lead others.

 

What does this approach to leadership help you and your teams accomplish?

The ability to feel impactful is so essential. Same with our teams. Many companies have gone from annual goal setting and reviews to quarterly. Some are even going monthly. Imagine if there were daily goal setting how much more focused organizations would be and straightforward our tasks would be. Ultimately this is what I have seen. I find myself more organized and thoughtful in my actions and, therefore, find the same within my teams — all from a simple reminder on my phone and three minutes of reflection each day.

  

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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Artificial Intelligence • Cloud • Internet of Things • Machine Learning • Analytics • Industrial