Becoming a Highly Effective Leader

Are you a highly effective person?  That’s really where all leaders need to start.

I challenge anyone who is a leader to tell me they don’t want to be a highly effective leader.   In fact, if I were to ask you today to give me six to ten characteristics of an ineffective leader, most people who have a job or who watch the news could do so. 

Why is it so hard to become an effective leader?  It really starts with discipline, values, wisdom, courage, and understanding. 

But how does one acquire such traits?  

Like in the Wizard of Oz movie, you cannot be given these traits because they are already in you.  You just have to find a way to let these traits blossom. 

“What’s in your wallet?” or (in my case) “What’s in your backpack?” 

 In a place long ago and far away (another movie reference and the date was actually 1994), I went to a Stephen Covey training after reading his highly acclaimed book at the time, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “  There I received the cards that I attached as pics to this article.  I have kept them in my backpack ever since and refer to them often.

We generally keep things that we cherish.

The training I received back then carried me through a beautiful career (33 years) in education as an administrator and beyond.  In using Covey’s tenet of Habit 3 – Putting First Things First, I have found that you have to become highly effective in your personal life first, then be a highly effective leader.  

Pro-Tip: Some of the best advice I can give you (rooted in Covey’s philosophy) is to work on the following…

  • Identify and cultivate a great value system.  We already know that honesty, trust-worthiness, and integrity are non-negotiable.  Now identify those values that you value in others and emulate them.     
  • Develop healthy and positive habits in your life.  These can be done incrementally (adding one at a time) so that they can become more sustainable. 
  • Be disciplined in your life by striking a balance in your mind, body, and spirit and learn time-management skills.  Stress levels go down proportionally related to how well you are focused and disciplined in reaching your goals.  
  • Find ways to grow in both your personal and professional life.  Reading, listening, journaling, networking, attending conferences, etc. all are habits you should acquire on a daily basis.  Plan time daily to learn something new or to develop something further.  
  • Be confident in yourself and your life’s pursuits.  I have had many failures and plenty of successes and all of these experiences have helped me to grow.  I only panic in any situation professionally if I don’t know the answer or how to help.  What I have learned is to calm myself, listen, and answer –  “I don’t know that answer now but let me find out,” or “let’s work this out together.”  I also have found that humor helps and that audiences are kinder than you think.  If you are prepared, your fears will go away sooner.  

Working on becoming a highly effective person is the best way to become a highly effective leader.  I hope you can adopt some of Stephen Covey’s principles and find your path towards becoming a highly effective leader.  

If you want to connect and learn more, reach out to me on LinkedIn or on our website,  

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