Character matters and as leaders, strength of character is essential to our effectiveness as industry leaders. How we conduct ourselves both with our guests and within our own work-groups directly impacts our ability to lead. In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he defines character development as a personal journey. First, as an infant, we begin life completely and utterly dependent on others. Then, as we begin to grow, we progress from a level of dependency to independency, learning to weigh cause and effect and to make our own responsible decisions. For many, this personal journey ends with being independent. Covey, however, offers a third level on the journey—interdependence.
There are seven natural laws that can be applied to our own personal and professional growth. The first three habits affect our ability to function as independent human beings. The last four habits make us something greater. They take us from independent people to interdependent leaders. As a result, we become highly effective at leading our families, our communities, and our organizations. The diagram below shows how these can impact our leadership growth:
Moving from Dependence to Independence
- Be Proactive
- Begin with the End in Mind
- Put First Things First
Moving from Independence to Interdependence
- Think Win Win
- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
- Sharpen the Saw
Habit One: Be Proactive
Responsible for behavior, results and growth.
Early on in my role as Attractions Supervisor at the Luxor Hotel, I found myself in a challenging situation. Both my venue—and the greater Rides & Attractions Department—were chronically short-staffed. Within our department, there were so many call-ins that we simply could not keep our heads above water. As a result, we were drowning in mediocrity. While I understood that there were some very good “root cause” reasons for the call-ins, I also understood we first needed some breathing room. I created a buffer of ‘extra’ shifts and then hiring enough people so that we could staff to that new level. As a result, we were in a better position to absorb our call-ins on a daily basis.
Between the stimulus and the response is your greatest power–you have the freedom to choose your response.
Being Proactive means that we take responsibility for our role and for the people and things we can change. Rather than blaming ‘the way things are’ on the larger picture (that old, tired “it is what it is” mentality), Habit One means that we focus on the areas in which we can best affect change. I committed myself to improving the staffing levels within my own venue and, as a result, my boss ultimately gave me the responsibility of hiring for the entire department.
Being proactive first begins in our own hearts and minds. When our sentences start with I can’t, I have to, or if only, we are reacting to our situation. That’s not where we want to be. When our sentences begin with I can, I will, and I prefer, that’s a proactive mindset and that’s the right direction to be headed in.
As a leader, would you rather be proactive or reactive?
How do you hold yourself accountable?
How do others hold you accountable?
What do you worry about?
How can your words and actions affect change?