7 Habits for Leadership Success From Dr. Stephen Covey

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Jul 17, 2012

Dr. Stephen Covey, who passed away Monday three months after a bicycle accident, was brilliant.

One of his best-selling books, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, taught us seven simple habits that apply to life, leadership, and love. He taught us to be highly effective. And he educated us on how to lead ourselves.

How do you apply his lessons to leading others? Here are seven ways to be a more highly effective leader, as taught by Dr. Stephen Covey.

  1. Value the important over the urgent. Running around like your hair is on fire keeps you focused on running and not completing what is most important. Do your best to avoid the ‘crazy busy’ mentality.
  2. Focus on what matters most. People produce profit but they don’t show up on the P and L. They do, however, show up in your customer comments, office morale, and ongoing motivation. Thus, it’s people that matter most and make all the other things leaders focus on, necessary.
  3. Seek first to understand those you lead. We all have different personalities and preferences, much like what is outlined in my book Make Difficult People Disappear. It’s one thing to know we’re different but quite another to seek to understand the differences in others. If you seek to recognize the differences, no one will be difficult. They will just be different. And that’s certainly acceptable.
  4. Sharpen the saw. What are you doing daily to develop your character, confidence, skills, or relationships with those you lead? Are you doing things to support their efforts for growth or are you asking people to work long hours without recognizing their needs and desires to learn grow professionally and personally. The blades can be sharpened through classes and trainings. If that is ignored, it will be difficult to get the job done.
  5. Begin with the end in mind. We know there is value in setting and having goals, but the greater value is in leading those goals to fruition. The team can’t help you drive toward those goals unless you share not only the target, but the resources, authority, skills, tools, and expectations for the journey. Begin with the end in mind means setting the team up for success from the start.
  6. Remember ‘Someday’ is not a date on the calendar. Leaders who overload and procrastinate often say they’ll get to a task “someday.” Leaders who live through their jobs with no life in sight may think they can focus on family “someday.” But that day does not have a place on the calendar and never arrives. It simply doesn’t exist. Be a model for the work-life balance or well-being you wish to see in those you lead. Do what you desire now before you find yourself looking for “someday.”
  7. Be proactive. Think ahead when it comes to customer’s needs. Think ahead when it comes to needs of the team. Think ahead when it comes to changes in the market and shifting industry trends. Your success as a leader depends on you celebrating what’s been done well, staying present to what the team is doing now, and looking ahead to what you’ll need to lead far into the future.