Self-Leadership: Behaviors That Make a Difference

SELF-LEADERSHIP-THROUGH-CHANGEAre you completely satisfied with the condition or performance of your job, marriage, relationships, or personal finances?  If you are like most people, you might agree that one of these areas or another could use more focus or strengthening. Once someone has decided to move down the path of change, the next step may leave a big question mark on how to start.

I propose that sustainable change is rooted in adopting new behaviors, that if practiced long enough, will typically turn into new lifelong habits.  Covey (2004) has studied human behavior and identified seven key habits that differentiate those who are holistically more effective in accomplishing what others do not.   When these habits are applied to various life areas, they can result in impactful change.  In action, Covey (2004) describes these behaviors as:

  1. Takes initiative: decides to be proactive versus reactive
  2. Sets vision: begins with the end in mind
  3. Prioritizes: puts first things first and second things second
  4. Thinks positively: looks for the win-win and not the win-lose
  5. Listens more than speaks: hears versus tells
  6. Solves problems: looks for synergy and compromise
  7. Invests in self-improvement: understands the importance of learning and growing

Each of these seven core behaviors can make a difference in how you perform and how others perceive you.  Should you decide to challenge yourself to improve at one of these habits, I would suggest first rating yourself on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 highest) on how well you embrace that personal habit.  Next, determine one or two that would be most meaningful to improve.  Then, think of one or two behaviors you could adopt that would increase your self-rating in that area.  Think of it as a SMART challenge, with SMART defined as (S) specific, (M) measurable, (A) achievable, (R) relevant and realistic, and (T) time sensitive.

When I review the list, habit #5 stands out for me.  I am highly extroverted, which means I tend to talk more than others.  My SMART challenge is to ensure that there is a pause (silence) in the conversation before I share my next thought.  This will force me to talk less, not interrupt, and listen more. I encourage you to think about your personal habits, determine which one you want to improve upon for greater effectiveness, and create a SMART challenge by which you could measure your progress.


Covey, S.R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

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