Highly Effective Leaders
In 1989 Stephen Covey wrote a self-help book titled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and in 2004 he released a 2nd book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness. These books focus on the principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. The overall characteristics and themes are applicable to not only being an effective person, but an effective leader.
Habit 1: Be Proactive.
Proactive people don’t wait around for life to happen; they take action and “own” their lives. Rather than dwelling on things they cannot control, they focus on what they can and make the best out of it. They use proactive language, like “I can,” and “I will” and believe that they have a choice in everything they do.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind.
This habit is built on the principle that everything happens twice; once mentally, where an idea or dream is envisioned, and once physically where it comes to life. Covey recommends developing a Personal Mission Statement that is centered around what a person wants to be and what they want to do. This allows for a person to be the leader in their own lives and have a guiding outline for where the future needs to go.
Habit 3: Put First Things First.
People are not meant to be pulled in every direction and being constantly stressed out; it’s okay to say “no” and take a step back when needed. This is a habit where people should decide what matters the most to them and put those things first. What’s of the most worth in their purpose, roles, and priorities?
Habit 4: Think “Win-Win.”
Covey coined something called the abundance mentality, a concept where one believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others. Life should be viewed as a cooperative rather than competitive environment. A person who has a “win-win” attitude needs to have integrity (in sticking with one’s values and commitments) and maturity (expressing oneself with the feelings of others in mind).
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
In most cases, when people are in conversations they listen to reply rather than listen to understand. This means that their focus is on getting their point across and being understood instead of taking a step back and listening to what someone else has to say. While it is important to value oneself, it is just as essential to value and pay attention to others.
Habit 6: Synergize.
A modern day buzz word, boiling down to working together or “two is better than one.” Teamwork is key. People bring different views, skills, and opinions to the mix and cooperation can often yield better results than working individually.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.
The greatest asset one has is themselves. Individuals should have a balanced life in four different areas: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual. The harmony that comes from this allows one to focus on personal growth and staying aware, allowing for the previous 6 habits to play out.
Habit 8: Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs
Perhaps the most important in terms of being an effective leader, this habit is constructed on the mindset that change begins with one person and can their voice can inspire others. Constantly look for the potential in others and help them be the best that they can be.
These habits include interpersonal communication and relationship skills, as well as habits that focus on bettering oneself. Both categories are important for becoming an effective leader; you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first. The habits and the skills they yield help create an organized and motivated individual who values others: a dynamic combination.
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