The Seven Habits model of management and leadership guru Stephen Covey is a theory that is applicable to our personal life, our social life and our working life. However the Seven Habits framework is highly applicable for leaders and managers. According to Covey, our paradigms affect how we interact with others, which in turn affects how they interact with us. Therefore Covey argues that any effective self-help program must begin with an “inside-out” approach, rather than looking towards our problems as “being out there” (an outside-in approach). We must start with examining our own character, paradigms, and motives.
The Seven Habits of Covey
1. Be proactive. This is the ability to control one’s environment, rather than the opposite, as is so often the case. Managers need to control their own environment, by using self-determination and the ability to respond to various circumstances.
2. Begin with the end in mind. This means that the manager must be able to see the desired outcome, and to concentrate on activities which help to achieve that end.
3. Put first things first. A manager must manage his own person. Personally. And managers should implement activities which aim to achieve the second habit. Covey says that habit 2. is the first, or mental creation; habit 3 is the second, or physical creation.
4. Think win-win. This is the most important aspect of interpersonal leadership, because most achievements are based on shared effort. Therefore the aim needs to be win-win solutions for all.
5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood. By developing and maintaining positive relationships through good communications, the manager is understood by others, and he can understand the subordinates.
6. Synergize. This is the habit of creative cooperation: the principle that collaborating towards attaining a purpose often achieves more, than could be achieved by individuals working independently.
7. Sharpen the saw. We should learn from our previous experiences. And we should encourage others to do the same. Covey sees development as one of the most important aspects for being able to cope with challenges, and for aspiring towards higher levels of ability.
In his 2004 book: “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness”, Covey introduces an additional eighth habit:
8. Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs. Striving towards “greatness”, means to act with integrity as an individual and to help others to do the same. According to Covey, this habit represents the 3rd dimension of his model. Greatness is the overlap of:
* Personal greatness. Applying the 7 habits in the forms of: vision, discipline, passion and conscience.
* Leadership greatness. Applying the 4 roles of leadership, which are modeling the 7 habits:
o Path finding. Creating the blueprint.
o Aligning. Creating a technically elegant system of work.
o Empowering. Releasing the talent, energy, and contribution of people.
o Modeling. To build trust with others. The heart of effective leadership.
* Organizational greatness. This is greatness turned into a vision, mission and values. This brings clarity, commitment, translation, synergy, and enables accountability.
Book: Stephen Covey: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Book: Stephen Covey: The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness