12 January, 2009

Some Lessons From Stephen R Covey

By C. Radhakrishnan

Keys to Effective Large Team

Covey outlined the keys for effective large teams::
• Psychologically committed.
• Accountable to the team / everybody.
• Culture of results.

One person may represent the group, but accountability is to the team versus the boss. Accountability to the team versus an individual is a knowledge worker concept.

How To Find the Win / Win Performance Agreement

Covey suggested an approach for finding the Win/Win for teams and organizations in terms of performance:
1. Help them find their voice.
2. Find out what individuals are good at and like doing and serves the needs of the business.

When you have that, you have a win-win. The key is to have a win/win performance agreement where it is mutually beneficial between the individual and the organization. The individual should be able to use their full talent and passion (there voice.)

Information is the Knowledge Worker's Disinfectant
Covey mentioned that light is the greatest disinfectant in nature. For the knowledge worker, it’s information. For a knowledge worker to be effective in a team, they need information, they need the criteria for success and they need to be accountable to the group.

The Whole Person

According to Covey, the whole person includes four parts:
• Body
• Mind
• Heart
• Spirit

Control-Paradigm to a Whole Person Paradigm

Covey reminded us that today’s workforce is about directed autonomy. You manage (things) that can’t choose. You lead people. People have the ability to choose.

The points are:
• Today’s world is about breaking away from a control paradigm and shifting to one of directed autonomy.
• Help people find their voice.
• You can’t buy the mind, body, heart, and spirit – they are volunteered.
• Use all four parts of your nature. If you take one away, then you’re treating a person as a “thing” that you control and manage.

Keeping Top Talent

Covey mentions about how Admirals in the Pacific were losing people to better paying jobs. There was an exception. Covey got to meet the group that kept their top talent. The keys to a committed group included:
• The culture was committed in hearts and minds.
• The job was fulfilling and meaningful.

Indian Talking Stick Communication
Covey shared a technique for improving empathic listening. It’s the Indian Talking Stick:
• You give the stick to the other person first.
• You don’t get the stick back until the other person feels they are understood.
• The purpose is not to agree, or disagree, but only to understand the speaker.
You don’t need to use an Indian talking stick. You can use any object. The value of the object is that you don’t get it back until the other person feels understood.

Industrial Age Concepts

Covey makes reference to some "industrial age concepts":
• People are an expense, tools and machines are assets.
• Supervision is an industrial age concept.
• One-on-one accountability to a boss.
• Comparison systems for the basis of collaboration.

Lighthouse Principles
Covey refers to some lighthouse principles that govern behaviour:
• Cultivate an abundance mentality.
• There are four parts to our nature: body, mind, heart, and spirit
• The whole is greater than the parts
• Develop integrity; avoid duplicity (Don’t say one thing, but do another and if you make a promise, keep it.)

Continuum of Communication
A continuum of communication that moves from hostility and transaction-based communication to transformation:
1. Hostility
2. Defensive Communication (Transaction)
3. Respectful Communication (Transaction)
4. Synergy, Third Alternative (Transformation)

Empathic Listening is the No. 1 Communication Skill

Covey stated that communication is the number one skill in life. He went on to say that empathic listening is the number one communication skill. Covey explained that empathic listening is listening within the other person’s frame of skills. Listening empathically is listening with the other person’s frame of reference. The key is to listen until the other person feels heard and understood.

Empathic Listening Over Telling and Selling
A satisfied need, no longer motivates. Covey used the example of air – it’s a satisfied need. When the other person feels heard and understood, it’s more likely they will listen to you and that you can seek a better solution, that’s mutually beneficial. You are no longer telling and selling.

Resolving Conflict By Finding the Third Alternative
In one of his interview Covey shared a technique for resolving conflict that works for him in 95% of the cases he runs into around the world. Here’s the key steps:
1. Put up the two points.
2. Ask the question, “would you be willing to search for a solution that would be better than what either of us has proposed?”
The key here is to listen to the other person first and listen empathically. The proactive part here is that you can choose to listen to the other person first (seek first to understand, then to be understood.)

Listening to Loved Ones
Once during a session, one person asked for advice on counselling a loved one. Covey responded with the following solution:
1. Start by saying, “Honey, I have not spent the time to listen to you, all I’ve done is tell you and evaluate.”
2. Listen in depth; restate to their satisfaction. (Empathic listening)
3. After they feel understood, you ask, “Have I listened to you? Are you willing to listen to me, as I have listened to you?”
4. Find a 3rd alternative.
The key here that Covey mentioned is that most people will not pay the price of listening empathically.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Now let us look at the seven habits of highly effective people in terms of private victory, public victory, dependence, independence, and interdependence.
1. Be proactive.
2. Begin with the end in mind.
3. Put first things first.
4. Think win-win.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
6. Synergize.
7. Sharpen the saw.

Habits 1,2 and 3 are the foundation for private victories and integrity. Habits 4, 5, and 6 are the keys to public victories.

Peace of Conscience Over Peace of Mind

Covey made a distinction between peace of mind and peace of conscience. He explained that integrity is more than honesty. Integrity means that if you make a promise, you keep it. If you’re honest, you might have peace of mind, but if you don’t have integrity, then you won’t have peace of conscience. You have peace of conscience by avoiding duplicity.

Loyalty to the Absent
Covey made his point very simply – only talk about people as if they are there. You can be critical, but speak as if they were there in front of you. Don’t bad mouth them behind their back and then sweet talk them to their face. This is a lack of integrity and creates deep duplicity inside you. This inhibits your ability to have peace of conscience.

Use I Messages Over You Messages
Meet with the people you have a problem with directly. Practice the following:
1. Let me listen to you first.
2. Use “I” messages vs. “you” messages. I messages are “It’s my perception,” “in my experience,” … etc. You messages are “you are …”
Genuine Happiness

Covey said the key to genuine happiness is to develop integrity. The key to developing integrity is the first three habits (your Private Victories):
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first.

Greek Philosophy of Influence
Covey shares the three parts of the Greek philosophy of influence:
1. Ethos – credibility, model trust.
2. Pathos – restate the point of view. (Seek first to understand …)
3. Logos – Make your presentation. (… Then to be understood.)

You Are the Creative Force of Your Life
Covey challenged us to be a creative force:
1. Get out of victimism – You’re not a victim of your circumstances.
2. You are the creative force of your life.

Empathize first. Grow your circle of influence. Make tremendous impact.

The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Do

One most powerful message from Covey we could take:

The most important thing you’ll ever do is in the four walls of your own home.