Date: 04/03/2015 | By: Liz Painter


In this series of blogs by Kevin Brent, you will discover a step by step approach for how to become a highly effective leader.  You will learn principles and ways of thinking that if you make into habits will set you on the path to business success.

Kevin Brent is the founder of BizSmart Select, a group of selected businesses providing down to earth practical support and access to grant funding for business owners.  Membership is by invitation only.  We invite businesses we know personally and who share our values in supporting businesses.  The individuals are all small and medium sized businesses owners themselves.  Clients and members can then benefit from their trusted specialist support through monthly ‘lunch and learn’ webinars, discussion forums and direct relationships with the aim of supporting business owners in growing their businesses.

This blog is the first in a series of leadership blogs examining the habits of highly effective people. The principles are based on the best-selling book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey and his ideas struck a chord with me many years ago.

Taken together, these leadership habits have the power to transform the way we conduct our personal and business lives.  They are not, however a quick fix list of ‘tactics’ or tricks and techniques.  Rather they are a set of principles that if you really think about and adopt will enable you to be a more effective leader over time.

Those of you that have been through some of the support provided by BizSmart will recognise how we have weaved some of these leadership principles into the strategic way we encourage business owners to think about their businesses.  The process we take business owners through has these leadership principles running through it.

Ultimately what we are, our character and our values communicate more than what we say or do.  Individuals and businesses with strong character and values will be more effective than those without.

Some of you will read this series of blogs and no doubt think ‘well yes, seems obvious.  Now back to the day job!’  I am hoping that if you take the time and make the effort to really think about the messages behind these principles then some of you will really ‘get it’ and start to try to adopt them.  It will not be easy and it will take time and effort to truly make them work for you – but it will be worth it.

In this introductory blog I cover the basic ideas on which the habits are built.  In the subsequent blogs I will explore each of the habits in turn and show how together they take us on a journey from dependency (relying on others), through independency (not needing others) and on to interdependency (where we work with others to achieve greater success).

To be able to understand these principles we first need to be aware of the importance of the ways we view the world – or our paradigms.  An Americanism, perhaps, and no doubt we will have all heard the phrase ‘paradigm shift’!  But a paradigm is simply the subjective way in which we see and understand the world around us.

If we really want to change our own and other people’s behaviours, we need to change the way they picture their roles – this is what Covey calls a paradigm: the way we see our role.

Picture this scenario if you will.  Imagine your 16-year-old son is in the run up to his GCSEs.  He is a typical surly, overconfident teenage youth, short on words and big on his own importance – and not always the most helpful around the house.  You want him to do the best he can and in spite of constant reminding of the importance of doing well in his GCSEs he seems far more interested in the X-box and his guitar.  The more you suggest he should be studying the more he pushes back – to the point where he pretty much refuses to do anything and you are becoming more and more frustrated with him.  You come home from work one evening during the Easter holidays to discover he didn’t get up until midday, spent all afternoon on NBA 2K 14, has done no study and refused to take the dogs for a walk – let alone mow the lawns that are well overdue.  Is your blood boiling yet?  I know mine was!  “Why can’t he just see sense and get on with it?”

So in an effort to remove any distractions and encourage him to do the right thing, you ban him from the X-box and insist he goes to his room to study.  A little while later you decide to go and check up on him.

You discover your over confident son in tears on the bed.

Do you begin to see the situation differently?  You ask him what’s up and, sobbing, he tells you that he doesn’t know where to start or how to go about his revision – he feels he has so much on his plate and can’t cope.

Feel differently now?  Imagine how I felt at that moment.  I saw things differently.  Because I saw things differently, I felt differently.  Because I felt differently, I behaved differently.  My anger and frustration disappeared and were replaced with compassion and a desire to help.  So I experienced a paradigm shift.  I no longer saw a cocky 16-year-old youth refusing to see sense and pull his finger out – I now saw a vulnerable young man struggling to cope and putting up a protective defensive front.

So what’s this got to do with business and leadership?  What is the lesson here?

Our attitude and our behaviour are a function of how we see the situation.  It isn’t what happens to us that affects our behaviour, it is our interpretation of what happens – our behaviour is a function of how we see the situation.  We do not have to react to a situation, we can chose how we respond depending on how we see it.

Once we really understand this, we can begin to understand the importance to our personal and business lives.  If we want our staff to change their behaviour and become more responsible and proactive in growing our business, we need to help them to change the way they see their role.  If they see themselves as ‘9- 5’ not very valuable employees with a narrow job description, how can we expect them to share our passion for the business and think proactively and independently?

If we can learn to see things differently, we can learn to change the way we respond.  If we can help others to see things differently, we can encourage them to begin to change their behaviour.

Now we understand about the importance of paradigms we next need to understand about habits – and this will be the starting point for the next blog!  We will revisit the idea of how we respond to what happens to us in habit 1 – Be Proactive.