The book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" had such a huge influence on me. I got introduced to it at a point in my career where I really needed it. It brought me so much clarity and renewed energy in my career and leadership style and it's continued to shape so much of my thinking from that point on.
I revisit it often, I think I'm up to 3 copies of it now! I'll often share parts of it when I'm mentoring or coaching, directing people to read parts of the book, or watch videos and lectures online.
The original version was published in 1989. But don't let that put you off, the key messages are as relevant today as they ever have been.
The book is about personal effectiveness. But it's hard to separate that from great leadership. From there, it's then hard to separate that from leading in an engaging way. I've found that the lessons that I learned in that book have naturally migrated into my work on employee engagement.
So having taken it down from my shelf to have a look through for the 1001 time, I thought I'd share just a little of what I see in the book about employee engagement. There is way too much to include in one blog, so I've gone killer content only!
I give you... The 7 Habits of Highly Engaging Leaders!
Habit One - Be proactive
Let's start with the habit of making and keeping commitments.. So much of engagement is wrapped up in the trust and confidence employees hold about their leaders. Employees join a business and leave a manager and I've seen that playing out time and time again in my career.
This habit is just doing what you say you are going to do - every. single. time.
Are you about to change your mind, pivot or let someone down? It happens. Be proactive about telling them. Protect the trust they have in you - it'll protect their engagement too.
Habit Two - Begin with the end in mind
I did a 3 day course on the 7 Habits, I remember sitting in a training room and them playing a video. The video asks you to imagine yourself on your 80th birthday and what you'd like people to say about you, how you lived your life, the kind of person you were. I found myself crying!
If you're interested, you can check out the video here - tissues at the ready! (OK, maybe it's just me!).
At Ten Space, we talk about the impact of being an inspirational leader. Someone who brings out the best in their team. Who draws the outlines and lets their teams colour in the picture how they want.
I'm not sure "be inspirational" is a particularly helpful piece of advice for me to give out as a habit! But I'd encourage you to consider if you are a consistent leader, are you true to your values and do your team see the best of you? We can really see great habits on this topic play out in engagement scores and feedback.
Habit Three - Put first things first
Quadrant planning was a game changer for me. It made me realise that my measure of success to others wasn't on how many emails I'd sent (their urgent) - it was on the pro-active value I add (my important). It was the moment that made me get out of my inbox and start creating strategies and delivering great change instead!
I see "inbox dwelling" happening all the time in the written feedback we get from our surveys. It's the pleas for more one-to-ones, more career management, more time spent on proactive communication.
Building team engagement is about doing more than fixing issues as they come up. that's the basics. Building engagement is about doing the things that are not urgent, but are important to that employee.
So don't make a habit of cancelling one-to-ones. They might not matter to you, but they do to your employees.
Habit Four - Think win/win
This habit is about a mentality of abundance. "There is enough to go round". "For me to win, that doesn't mean someone else has to lose".
So how does this play out into engagement? For me, this habit is about teams. It's about great habits of collaboration, of valuing everyone's contributions. Of recognition that stretches across the entire team. Of not playing favourites with team members. I come to realise how damaging the concept of "Top Talent" is on employee engagement - but I'll save that for another blog!
Habit Five - Seek first to understand, then to be understood
There's another great video for this! https://www.franklincovey.com/the-7-habits__trashed/habit-5/
The habit we're trying to create here is listening to your team. Like really listening! It’s one of the things I'm so passionate about with our employee survey platform. The anonymity of it allows you to surface feedback that employees might not share in another way. Once you know what's happening, you can take action. Once you've taken action, you've delivered on a promise. You've built trust and you've built engagement. Hurrah!
Habit Six - Synergise
The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. The habit here is about being mindfully inclusive. Of recognising the contribution that all of your team can make and bringing out the best in them.
It's about operating in a really inclusive way, that allows your team to really shine. The habit of putting your ego on hold!
Habit Seven - Sharpen the saw
Last but not least, ‘sharpen the saw’ is creating a habit of wellbeing and self-investment. There is no end of content about this online already, this again isn't the place for my thoughts on creating great personal wellbeing habits (but I'm happy to share them if you want to DM me!).
The habit here, which really builds engagement, is about leading by example when it comes to sharpening the saw. Your team seeing you investing in your personal development, or creating healthy work boundaries is a powerful example of what your values are as a leader. Wellbeing of the team is key to engagement, but it can get lost in translation if your words and music don't match!
Franklin Covey, if you're reading this and need my bank details for a commission payment, give me a shout! Does that count as a win-win?! 🙂