Morning Leadership: Bring the Cheer

The scene begins to play out as soon as the elevator doors crack, and the fluorescent lights from the hallway stream into the glorified cargo vessel I ride from the ground floor to the third.

Hushed whispers, quick glances back and forth, and raised eyebrows are noticeable as I make the trek from the elevator to my office all the way in the corner of the building.

I wonder to myself, “Why so much whispering back and forth? It’s only 7:45. Did I miss some big news overnight?”

One of the production team members runs in and hurriedly drops off a calendar update while anxiously whispering,”…hmm, um – so…um how was your morning? Here’s the update…listen, have you had coffee yet?”

That’s when it hits me.


I have a tendency to portray (extremely visibly) when my mind or body is worn down and my emotions are tired. Frequently, my eyes betray me by forming large sinkhole-like gaps underneath my eyelids and creating the appearance of a half-drugged, angry old man. Coincidentally, this scene often plays out when I have not yet consumed the caffeine that my body has come to crave during early morning hours. Hence, my team stealing glances and averting eye contact – they assume it’s going to be one of *those days*.

I’m ashamed to say this probably characterized much of the way I was perceived early on as a manager. The positive energy in the office (or lack thereof) was entirely dependent upon a cup of coffee being consumed in the early hours of the day.


Since, I’ve tried to implement a few practical tactics I’ve picked up from some of my favorite leaders (Andy Stanley, Jon Acuff, Matt Chandler, and others). In fact,  Andy talks specifically about this topic in his podcast, “Vision is a Team Sport.” Blending these tactics with some lessons learned from experience have transformed the following behaviors into habits:

  • First, I get up earlier. Counter-intuitive, I know. However, I’ve found that when I am up by 5 or 5:30, I am in gear to provide the energy and direction my team needs by 8.
  • Next, I spend the early part of my morning with the only One who can give me the energy and direction I need. No amount of caffeine/red bull/drugs can provide the stability and focus that comes from remembering who I am in Christ. Everything else hits proper perspective and importance.
  • I try to always be the first one to the office. This is not always logistically plausible, however, I like to make this happen whenever I am able. I think of my office as my storefront. If I were a small business owner I’d be there early to get the store ready for my clients. Making the workplace enjoyable for my team holds the same importance.
  • Lastly, I bring the cheer. Greeting each team member as they enter the office and inviting them in with a smile and genuine concern for their weekend/evening/holiday makes all the difference. These people want to know their leader cares and is interested in their well-being.

Simple, practical, and borderline obvious. But, the fact remains that the team can see a noticeable change when these actions turned into habits. I even had one member ask me what prompted the change and if I was sleeping better to instigate such cheeriness. It’s sad it got to that point, but now we’re moving forward. Habits reflect belief, and it’s my belief that a positive work environment is vital for my team to perform to their potential.

What are some habits you’ve collected to increase the enjoyment and productivity of yourself or your team? I would love to hear how you’ve grown or plan to grow in the coming months.



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