Because our Lawrence & Co. team is completely virtual and only face-to-face once a year – and since we’re very busy and often drop right into action in our weekly meetings – we wanted to find a way to get to know and connect with each other personally.

So, my team created meeting starter cards which we call CoachAgories, that offer questions in three categories: Work, Self & Life (based on the model from Your Oxygen Mask First).  Here are some examples:

  • Who’s your greatest mentor?
  • What is the best leadership book that you own?
  • Are you wearing Adidas or Nike?
  • What is the biggest hiring mistake – or one that you’ve witnessed?
  • Do you have a Mac or a PC?

When I asked this CoachAgories question to executive teams we work with in India, the US and Canada, the answers were shockingly similar – and not surprising: preparation.

Success: when preparation meets opportunity

One of my favourite quotes by Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War (mandatory reading in many business programs) says it all:

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

If you are too busy to prepare, if you want to be mediocre, just go with the flow and see what happens. That works in life, sometimes, but not when there’s a job to be done, when customers or employees are involved.

You can’t just show up and hope and pray. It doesn’t work. How successful leaders prepare is by already having thought things through. They have plan A, B, C and D, and they will prevail no matter what, because they are prepared.

How Successful Leaders Prepare becomes a habit

So, based on what these successful leaders told us, here are their top six habits to make sure they are ready for the week:

 1. Make lists

Almost every leader we spoke to consistently make their priorities lists – either Sunday morning or evening, or in some cases on Fridays – to set themselves up before the week begins. These are the important priorities – not urgencies – to focus and allocate their time, aligned with their quarterly or annual goals. They include:

  • Must-do, top three high-value, high-impact items
  • Personal resilience, growth and work goals.

Note: In Your Oxygen Mask First, I break lists down into three columns of Work, Self and Life. However you carve up your list, include all the areas important to you and the most essential stuff you got to do, in each one.

 2. Lick toads

Another way how successful leaders prepare is by NOT procrastinating. Most leaders tackle their toads, first, in some way, to boost their energy and create great momentum for the day. Toads are things you procrastinate doing – and often carry a mental burden – because you don’t want to deal with them.

 3. Sync calendars to priorities

Most leaders we spoke to make sure their priorities get done and ensure the people around them are also working on their most important things.

The schedule meetings, and make sure agendas are clear, and

Block in time for the non-tactical – thinking, strategizing, brainstorming, high-level problem solving and preparing – or it won’t get done.

 4. Allocate time for emails

They all took specific time, at some point every day, to set and change meetings, ask for and share information, and delegate.

 5. Prep personal life

Most leaders make sure they are fresh and ready to go on Monday morning by putting their personal life in order, on the weekend. Things like organizing the house, planning meals, packing a bag, choosing clothes, making plans with kids or for social activities, choosing a running route, spending time with family or friends.

This is all about making sure they lead the week, and the week doesn’t lead them.

The Challenge

  • You must already have a way you get organized to make it a great week. Based on the habits above, how can you take it up a notch?
  • With whom on your team could you discuss preparing for successful week?

To hear more, listen to Episode 104 of The Growth Whisperers.

Learn 12 Tips for Better Business Meetings.


Lawrence & Co’s work focuses on sustainable and enhanced growth for you and your business. Our diverse and experienced group of advisors can help your leaders and executive teams stay competitive through the use of various learning tools including workshops, webinars, executive retreats, or one-to-one coaching.

We help high-achieving leaders to have it all – a great business and a rewarding life. Contact us for simple and impactful advice. No BS. No fluff.