By MOHAMMED ALMATHIL
What books of leadership and personal development do you recommend? I usually get asked this question every time I deliver a lecture of conduct a workshop. As promised in December, I will do my best to share articles, blogs, video, and book summary. This week, I would like to introduce the first of many important books on leadership and personal development. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a well known book by Stephen Covey which focuses on, as the title suggests, seven essential skills that every leader needs:
1. BE PROACTIVE
The first and perhaps the most important habit of highly effective leaders is being proactive and taking action. Effective leaders take responsibility and do not treat themselves as victims. Instead of being reactive, blaming others and blaming the circumstances around them, they choose to take action to change their situation. As we mentioned previously, proactive people have a “Just do it” Nike mentality.
2. BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Effective leaders visualize where they want to be. They know exactly what they want to accomplish, as well as how they want to be remembered after they’re gone from this world. Think of well known leaders such as Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Stephen Covey, Sheikh Zayed, Nelson Mandela, and of course the best of all leaders, our Prophet Mohammed . One common habit between such well known leaders is that they all had a vision for what they wanted to achieve. Make a conscious effort to visualize where you want to be in 5, 10, 30 years from now, and what legacy do you want to leave behind.
3. PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
To become effective leaders, we must be able to prioritize. We all have different roles we have to fulfill, and we all have different goals we want to achieve. In order to do so, we must decide on the most goals so that we allocate to them the most resources. If we do not do so, we will end up spreading ourselves too thin in things that don’t reap us must benefit.
4. THINK WIN-WIN
Many people are taught to have a “I win, you lose” mentality. The most valuable interactions with family, friends, coworkers and even strangers is the “Win/Win” mentality. That is, how can we all benefit from the situation. The “Win/Win” mentality is often effective in negotiations where both sides want to make the best deal. But as effective leaders, we must constantly have this mindset not just in negotiations but in our interactions with those around us. Having this mindset allows us not only to benefit but to also foster strong relationships with those around us.
5. THINK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Active listening is a key skill for success in any relationship. If a doctor gives his patient a prescription over the phone without listening and understanding all of the patient’s symptoms and medical history, there can be serious or even fatal consequences if the patient takes the wrong medicine. In the same way, effective leaders must be able to actively listen and understand others in order to be able to connect with them, and give them sound advice for their situation. We must strive to have empathy and seek to understand the others’ point of view without judging them. After we have a clear understanding of the other person, then we should strive just as hard to make sure the person understands us.
Effective leaders know the importance and power of teamwork. We must value the importance of working together as a team in order to achieve more. Knowing how to synergize entails understanding and valuing the fact that team members have different opinions, different ideas and different backgrounds. Instead of seeing these differences as a negative roadblock, effective leaders synergize by seeing them as an effective asset to the team. Valuing the differences between team members can lead to new creative ideas and alternatives that we may not have thought of on our own. Being synergistic allows us to grow socially, mentally and emotionally.
7. SHARPEN THE SAW
Think of the refresh button on your web browser. Everytime you click it, something new may pop up on the page. Similarly, effective leaders must have a personal refresh button. This could be a walk on the beach, praying two Rak’ahs at night, reading a book, relaxing, attending a workshop, going to Umrah, shopping or playing sports. Whatever it may be, we all need a way to disconnect and rejuvenate our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits.
I will refer to the author and his works quite often in upcoming articles since he was one of the top personal and leadership experts. In the meantime, I encourage you to purchase the book and study it further in order to become a more effective person. Until next time, I welcome your responses, questions, or reflections. You can comment below, or tweet at @AlmathilNY using the hashtag #OTIBookSummary on twitter, and I will do my best to respond to them.