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  • Writer's pictureKerry Ahrend, M.S., PMP


If you haven’t read Stephen Covey’s book entitled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Simon & Schuster, 1989) then let me recommend it now. If you have and it was a while ago, pick it up again. Those 7 Habits are timeless and essential habits of an effective leader.

Habit #1 is Be Proactive. Bottom line it means have a plan. Without a plan, you can plan to fail. We should be creating effective solutions and not spending our time in reactionary mode putting out fires.

Habit #2 is Begin with the End in Mind. This goes back to having a vision, a set direction so everyone will be on the same page. Without clear direction, your team will surely get lost and will encounter frustration, mistrust, and confusion.

Habit #3 is Put First Things First. Covey followed up the 7 Habits book with a book entitled First Things First (Simon & Schuster, 1994). This is about prioritizing and putting the important things first. Anyone struggling with time management issues (which is almost everyone) will benefit greatly by following this quadrant approach to setting priorities. A team will struggle without having a clear sense of priorities.

Habit #4 is Think Win-Win. To be a successful high performing team you must collaborate and work together to meet common and shared goals and objectives to achieve the vision and mission of the project.

Habit #5 is Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. As a leader, you must do more listening and seeking to understand the other party’s needs and expectations. Ask open-ended probing questions, listen actively, and seek to understand the interests (basic human needs; Maslow) of the other person.  

Habit #6 is Synergize. Leaders don’t have all the answers and they recognize that. They engage others in joint problem-solving and joint decision making. Respect, trust, and rapport are built through engaging others and respecting their input.

Habit #7 is Sharpen the Saw. Some leaders may be “born leaders” but most are not. Most are individuals who are committed to building their skill sets and developing their people or team members. What skills, knowledge, abilities, desires, and habits will it take for you to become an effective leader worthy of being followed. What does the (wo)man in the mirror look like . . . would you follow him/her?

For more information on Situational Leadership visit  And for offerings by Stephen Covey go to

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