In 1989, Stephen R. Covey wrote The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, a highly influential volume in the world of business management. The book has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide. Covey starts from the position of “abundance mindset,” fostering teamwork in an organization through the belief that there are enough resources to be able to collaborate and share success with others in the group. This is, says Covey, as opposed to a “scarcity mindset,” where there’s an unnecessary, destructive, stressful competition going on that can be counterproductive to the group’s goals.
Now, for a brief rundown of the Seven Habits:
- Be proactive – Take the reins for your own decisions and outcomes, and don’t wait for someone else. Remember that you’re the one accountable for your moves, for better or worse.
- Begin with the end in mind – In business, this long-game approach might involve creating a mission statement, to help keep your eyes on the goal and not just the short run.
- Put first things first – Prioritize your days, your weeks and your quarters, and stick with this priority schedule. Be mindful of whether your efforts get you closer to your goals and are in keeping with the first two Habits.
- Think win/win – Remember that a “win” for a group is a win for everyone, and is almost always going to play out as a better resolution than if one person alone is driving the decisions and insists on getting things his or her way.
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood – Keep your ears open and try to identify in an empathetic way with the challenges that others on your team are facing. This approach will help them be much more receptive to your own input.
- Synergize – Remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and teamwork should combine the strengths of everyone in your group. The result is a goal that no one person could do on his or her own.
- Sharpen the saw – Don’t let work overrun your life to the point of burnout. Balance your working life with whatever it takes to renew your physical and emotional energy, whether it’s prayer, meditation, exercise, good reading or service back to your community.
While much of Covey’s gospel seems intuitive, but many managers and individuals don’t grasp it and have paid the price in performance and results. Presentation Solutions suggests our readers revisit this book, or read it for the first time. Nearly a quarter of a century later, it is still considered to be a touchstone for not only managers, but also people looking for self-help advice in their personal lives.