The Habits of Effective Leaders

by waqeconsulting Leave a Comment

No matter how busy the world of work becomes, some principles remain as useful as ever. Those principles include fairness, honesty and human dignity, and they form a key part of the 7 habits of effective leaders popularised by Stephen Covey in his book of the same title.

In this blog we are presenting the 7 habits in a little more detail, as taken from the Franklin Covey website. We find them as useful in our work as the day we started using them, which is a good few years ago!

1.    Be pro-active

This habit is about breaking through barriers, and we do this through using our resourcefulness and initiative. Being proactive is about exercising choice. Habit 1 says ‘I am in charge’.

2.    Begin with the end in mind

This is the habit that concerns vision. For any activity, think, what is the outcome I want? You can apply this orientation to meetings, presentations, conversations and more.

3.    Put first things first

What are your ‘first’ things? What do you value most? Doing everything that comes your way is neither sustainable nor desirable. Learn to put things that matter to you most, first, and say no to others. Effective leaders tend to be self-aware and they prioritise what matters most as much as possible.

4.    Think win-win

Winning at the expense of someone else’s losing breeds resentment and distrust over the long run. Covey beautifully describes this win-win habit as a code for human interaction and collaboration. Get into the habit of working together for mutual benefit.

5.    Seek first to understand then to be understood

Habit 5 focuses on creating a give-and-take environment, one that appreciates listening and giving candid feedback. We recently blogged about the value that leaders who listen create. Read that blog here.

6.    Synergise

Two heads are better than one. Innovation and problem solving are widely recognised as requiring many and diverse points of view. The synergise referred to in habit 6 is about more than just working together. It extends to adventuring together, with a real open-mindedness to find new solutions.

If you have a change of heart of you feel energised and excited, you are likely to be in synergy. Put another way – you are discovering the ‘3rd alternatives’.

7.    Sharpen the saw

Do not become too busy sawing to take time to sharpen the saw. This applies to professional development, but also to nourishing the self with good food, exercise and rest, meaningful social connections and spiritual pursuits such as spending time in nature, with music, meditation or art.

In his work, Covey emphasizes that we progress from dependence to independence (habits 1 to 3) and then on to interdependence (habits 4 to 6). Small things done differently, and repeated, are what eventually nudges the larger system, and as a result, your effectiveness.

As the accomplished business person, philanthropist and author of Principles, Ray Dalio, notes:

“If you do just about anything frequently enough over time, you will form a habit that will control you. Good habits are those that get you to do what your “upper-level you” wants, and bad habits are those that are controlled by your “lower-level you” and stand in the way of your getting what your “upper-level you” wants. Choose your habits well.”

We hope this post has given you some concrete habit inspiration.


Are you nourishing and developing your leaders? At Waq’e Consultants we offer leadership coaching and mentoring, as well as development programmes for leaders in the recruitment agency sector. Contact us to find out more about our work with agencies:




waqeconsultingThe Habits of Effective Leaders

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