Watch for habits of effective leaders

Published 12:48 am Sunday, November 5, 2017

Over recent weeks, we have had an increasing number of opportunities to meet with leaders in the Natchez-Adams County area. It is refreshing to hear more and more of them speak and discuss community issues in ways and through language that aligns with the concepts in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We challenge you to begin to watch for these signs and to be encouraged by leaders who you see demonstrating them!

4Habit 1: Be Proactive

For all who realize that they do not have to wait on life to happen, but indeed understand that they must take the initiative to stand up and make every effort to “seize the day,” they understand what Gandhi meant when he said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world;” they are being proactive.

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4Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Setting goals is the essence of defining what you want to achieve. Whether one believes in the power of positive thinking, or speaks of the power of “claiming” their goals, they are all behaving with the end in mind. The mounting frequencies of statements from those who have a vision for the healing of Natchez are symbolic of this habit.

4Habit 3: Put First Things First

Prioritizing is undeniably the best way to approach any effort in order to make progress and arrive at one’s destiny. Random actions rarely lead to the desired outcomes, but a methodological sequence or arrangement of actions often results in the reward of achieving one’s goal(s). It is encouraging to see a priority for praying and putting God first!

Once one becomes successful with these first three habits, a “private victory,” they may effectively move into working with other people and leading them toward shared goals through a “public victory.”

4Habit 4: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

Effective leaders dedicate themselves to listening to those they wish to lead, and surrounding themselves with those who can give them feedback as to what others think and need. By understanding the motivation of others, one can communicate in ways that may be understood. Opportunities like last Monday night at New Hope Church provide a basis for the importance of listening for understanding.

4Habit 5: Think Win-Win

Ultimately, leading others is based in a strong commitment to all parties benefiting. Some may hold leadership positions for a time, but whenever it seems that they are putting their own agenda ahead of the success of others, their leadership is often cut short. The test will be as plans and strategies are put forth, which ones are win-win?

4Habit 6: Synergize

Collaboration is the highest attribute of any successful leader. By inclusively working with others, leaders may arrive at better plans for the success of all whom they lead than they could ever devise in isolation. I believe that some of these ideas are based in real needs, but collaboration certainly will be needed to devise the best means to these ends.

Dr. Covey reminded us that once one is effectively functioning as a leader, there are important next steps:

4Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Every leader needs time to rejuvenate, refresh, and reinvigorate — allow time for recreation, personal enjoyment and life-long learning. Practicing skills and exploring other options can meet this need for those who are truly seeking a collective benefit.

Just before Dr. Covey passed away, he wrote another book adding an eighth and final Habit:

4Habit 8: Find Your Voice

Finding one’s “sweet spot” or best fit for talents and understanding, then stepping up to the plate as a leader to help others achieve success is the highest level of leadership.

Natchez United believes that more and more people in the Natchez-Adams County community are beginning to openly exhibit these habits of successful leaders. Look for their practice of these habits and thank them — yes, congratulate them — on having the courage and the commitment to the community, to rise out of the comfortable position of apathy. It is time to positively support each other in moving ahead and building a stronger community again — this time for each and every citizen!
Dr. Marvin Jeter is an educational consultant and a member of Natchez United.