Many of you enjoyed our recent blog post on developing your EQ, and asked for more information on this topic. As you know, improving your EQ can help you become a more effective leader and perform better in the workplace. In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey explains how to nurture your sense of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity - all essential aspects of emotional intelligence. While the book is 25 years old at this point, it is still used in leadership training at companies and universities around the world. It’s been translated into 52 languages and has sold more than 25 million copies. We thought you would find it useful to share the 7 habits that Covey recommends for becoming a highly effective person, habits that will increase your EQ substantially.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
In the first chapter of his book, Covey posits that change starts from within. Highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces. In the workplace, this could mean taking advantage of trainings offered by the company that interest you or could help you achieve your goals. Seeking coaching from a trusted manager is a great place to start as well.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Develop a principle-centred personal mission statement. You may be familiar with the concept of mission statements for companies, but now it’s time to think about what you want to accomplish in life. What are your values, and what’s important to you? Once you have a mission statement based on personal principles, you can use this to inform your long-term goals. Then, start to plan and visualise what you’re going to do to accomplish these goals. Covey says that all things are created twice: first, the mental visualisation and then a second physical, actual creation. Coming up this week is an article about the power and how-to of visualisation.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Effective time management is key for highly effective people. Decide what is most important, and take care of matters that are important and urgent before all others. In the matrix above, Covey divides tasks into four quadrants, organised by urgency and importance. Long-term goals would fall into the upper-right quadrant, and important deadlines and tasks in the upper-left. The lower-left is for time-sensitive items like colleagues popping into your office with a question, and the lower-right is for activities that yield little value. While most people find a lot of their work falls into the upper and lower left quadrants, it’s important not to forget about the upper right quadrant. You can use this grid to organise your to-do list, or to categorise tasks you’ve already completed to see if you’re achieving the right balance.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
This habit is all about using your empathy and understanding of others to seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. Value and respect people by understanding that one person’s success is not necessarily achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others. Whenever possible, seek “win/win” situations, in which everyone believes they are benefitting. Sometimes, a win/win deal may not be possible - in those cases, agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
One of the most important components of having a healthy EQ is first seeking to understand, then seeking to be understood. Sharpen your active listening skills and really take the time to understand others when they speak. They will, in turn, be more open minded in listening to what you have to say. Remember that effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said. Rather, it is putting yourself in the perspective of the other person, listening for both feeling and meaning.
Habit 6: Synergise
Combine the strengths of your colleagues through positive teamwork. Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Don’t assume you know more about everything than the people you manage, and create a respectful environment in which everyone has clear goals to achieve.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Highly effective people are always looking for ways to improve themselves. Make sure you’re always learning something new, and that you’re taking care of your body through proper nutrition, exercise, and your own version of inward reflection, be it something like prayer, meditation, or yoga. It’s important to re-energise and renew yourself (or “sharpen the saw”) so you’re best equipped to accomplish the tasks in front of you.
Covey’s guide to being a highly effective person is still as relevant today as it was in 1989 when it was published. Try incorporating these 7 habits into your life, and let us know how it changes things for you and how your increased EQ improves your workplace relationships and productivity.