Being Highly Effective!

Being Highly Effective!

No matter how you look at it, if someone is effective in their chosen endeavor, it does not take long to figure it out. It does not matter if you are a minority or speak with an accent. If you are effective, it is easy to stand out and more often than not, get to the top.

I am writing this article because becoming effective is a journey. It is not something you or me can quickly master overnight. It is a process that gets to the very core of your being and brings out the best in you ultimately. I am on that journey!

It was the year 2007, and i had the opportunity to get my first appraisal working in England as a leader. I had moved to England in 2004 and worked in roles without any managerial responsibilities. There I was, after conquering my Masters and now leading a team of professionals, I was to be appraised for the first time as a leader. The interesting thing was that I worked hard but had no frame of reference and thought that the ideas that prevailed back in Africa would see me through in a different society. To a large extent, I had improved my speaking and writing skills, but as I would later discover, there was still a lot to do.

During my appraisal, I was called out for something that I thought at the time was unfair. My then boss said that I had behaved in a manner that did not inspire confidence in my team. My boss sighted an occasion with a well-explained example, and I left the meeting angry, dejected and even felt that there was a hint of racism in the review. After a couple of days, after I had finished steaming, I spoke to my mentor, who was and still is a high-flying black professional in England about the incident. After listening, he suggested that I should take a hard look at myself to see if there was any truth in the observation. And if I find anything true deep down, I should go ahead to fix it. He recommended reading the 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen Covey. Reading that book was a turning point in the way I viewed the world. Until this day, it is the first book I recommend if someone is looking to start the personal development journey. Before I tell you what I read, I would like to tell you the result I got from changing my world view. I created a five-year personal development plan for every aspect of my life, created a vision and mission statement for myself and my family. I am still work in progress, but I have achieved more in experience, education and used those to advance my goals in life further.

What does Stephen Covey say in the 7 habits of highly effective people? Stephen builds a context before he goes into the habits. The main, and for me, the most important is what he calls a paradigm shift. A simple definition, change your thinking! He also makes a worthy mention of understanding principles. When people understand principles, they are empowered, not taught. These concepts are huge and can’t be taken lightly, but knowing, understanding and applying the framework to your thinking is the key to being effective.

The habits are classified into independence, interdependence, and continual service improvement.

The habits

Independence – Your private victory

  • Be proactive – Talks the fact that you have control over certain things and those are in your circle of influence. You also have little control over things that are in your circle of concern. Being proactive is making sure that you control your circle and take actions for concerns before they become problems.
  • Begin with the end in mind – this is a powerful way to having a clear vision of what you would like to see at the end of your efforts. Once you get the picture clear, work towards it!. If your vision is clear, it serves as a driving force to reach your goals.
  • Put first things firstDo you know things that matter most? Stephen gives a framework for prioritization. He uses the concepts of importance and urgency to advise what should be done first
  1. Important and Urgent
  2. Important and not urgent
  3. Not Important and Urgent
  4. Not important and Not Urgent

Interdependence – Public victory

  • Think win-winThis takes an approach to working and resolving disputes with people taking a genuine feelings approach to ensure mutually beneficial solutions for agreements. This method provides the better long-term results than if one person walks away from a winner.
  • Seek first to understand, then be understood – Communication is the most fundamental of skill we need in the marketplace and learning to master this skill puts us way ahead of the crowd. Stephen describes what it means to use empathic listening to understand a person genuinely. When we do this, there is a compelling reason for a person to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you.
  • SynergizeTalks about working to achieve a greater goal by combining strengths of people in a team environment. He also stresses that positive work is more likely to happen in a high-trust environment. A high-trust environment should be encouraged at all times.

Continual Service Improvement

  • Sharpen the saw – We must continuously look to strengthen our body, heart, mind, and soul. However way you see fit, exercise for physical renewal, take your spiritual quest seriously and have a healthy dose of reading for mental renewal.

This review is my summary; there is a lot that has been left out. The 7 habits of highly effective people is a must read. I would encourage you to get a copy for yourself today

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