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Developing Leadership in Yourself and Your ABA Team

As a leader in an ABA organization, I sometimes found myself overwhelmed by the busy-ness of serving clients, working with payers, and supporting my team.  Just as they say you must put the oxygen mask on yourself before caring for others, tending to your own behavior is crucial to shaping the behaviors around you.  If you follow social media blogs like Inc., you can capture a few nuggets of leadership wisdom every day.  Science has also shown that reading is good for the brain.

Since I have learned so much from the ABA world about behavior, an area where behavior analysts are clearly the subject matter experts, I’m sharing a few books that the business world looks to for best practices in leadership. As a starter, I’m going to share one excellent book on personal development and one on organizational development.

Key Takeaways From Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The 7 Habits are helpful principles to develop strong character. People who develop these habits are the inspirational people who make a difference for others.

  • Be Proactive – Rather than wait for issues to come to you, reach out to gather more information and take action early.
  • Begin with the end in mind – Approaching any problem, task or conversation with a mind towards “what is the best outcome” helps focus on what’s most important
  • Put first things first – Prioritizing the things that are truly important enables you to give the attention to things that are truly important rather than only what is urgent .
  • Think Win/Win – In working with other people, the best opportunities are possible when you are finding ways to serve both your interests and those of the other party.
  • Seek first to understand, then be understood – Communication is enhanced when you understand where the other party is coming from prior to getting your perspective across.
  • Synergize – This is a fancy business word that means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Find ways to bring resources together that are complementary and yield better returns than they would if independent.
  • Sharpen the saw – Seek ways not just to get things done, but to improve the methods and processes to get them done with greater ease.

Why Behavior Analysts Might Find This Book of Interest

  • If there was one book that provides the most helpful tips on being effective in your job and your life, this is the one I would recommend.
  • Steven Covey is viewed to be one of the most inspirational business leaders of the last 50 years and this book, first published in 1990, is a classic.
  • Covey’s model of leadership builds your capacity from the inside out through 3 stages:
    • Dependence- relying on others
    • Independence- enabling us to be responsible for ourselves
    • Interdependence- the paradigm of achieving more through cooperation

Key Takeaways From Traction by Gino Wickman

Traction identifies the 6 key areas a business owner needs to focus on as:

  1. Vision- communicating a compelling reason for being and direction of the organization
  2. People- building a team of people who Get what is required of them in their particular role Want to fulfill that role with excellence and have the Capacity to do it in terms of skills and abilities.
  3. Data- using a handful of metrics to help measure and drive performance are crucial to focusing on the right things
  4. Issues- managing the obstacles that come up in the course of day to day work requires the ability to Identify the issues, Discuss/Define potential solutions, and Solve the issues by choosing to take actions
  5. Process- documenting and defining the way things are done helps clarify best practices and enables refinements and improvements to differentiate your organization
  6. Traction- progress in your organization is based on focus, accountability and discipline which enables you to measure and see real progress

Why Behavior Analysts Might Find This Book of Interest

  • Wickman’s book puts the challenges of leading a growing organization into the context of what are typical challenges.
  • The EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) language can help align a team around management practices.
  • The book is a practical step by step approach for how to build a strong company culture.

9 Leadership Books to Build Your Capabilities

Personal Development Best Practices

  1. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  3. Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell
  4. Presence by Amy Cuddy
  5. Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Organizational Development Best Practices

  1. Traction by Gino Wickman- Entrepreneurial Operating System
  2. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  3. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
  4. Bringing out the Best in People by Aubry Daniels

If you find this discussion of interest and would like to engage in a conversation about the principles of leadership, please join us for Leading an ABA Organization: Developing a Leadership Culture!

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