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on June 16, 2017
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on February 3, 2004
This book brings the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People together with Demings 14 Points. If organizations were to use this methodology, they too would be effective. I recommend this book because it had a profound effect on an organization I was working for.
Can we lead better individual lives and have our corporations apply principles that will take those individuals to higher levels of accomplishment? America applies these principles in most of the best companies, these are enduring principles.
This is a book to read for leaders and teachers in business.
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on May 20, 2004
Steven Covey provides the reader a solid roadmap for successful leadership. When leaders with character work with others, they obtain loyalty and inspire the best results. Excellent read.
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on November 29, 2001
This book is written in a clear and down to earth style and has practical ideas and suggestions to make you more like that ideal leader you envision. Remember that leader in your mind you wish was encouraging you daily? Covey helps you to learn to be more like that person than you thought possible. The book promotes the idea that business and ethics are not mutually exclusive. Covey explains that the foundation of an organization must be built on individual trustworthiness, which in turn leads to trust, then to empowerment and finally alignment. He gives you a practical step-by-step process to practice and preach these principles to unleash the potential of organizations after they begin to be run by principle-centered leaders. He leads you down a long journey of hard work, commitment, and long-term perspective to end up realizing what success is all about. Some may feel that the book is effective for beginners rather than experienced managers, but I feel that anyone can take away ideas and reminders on how to become a better person and in turn a great leader. His explanations allow us to understand people and human nature, which in turn allows for better effective management of people.
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on October 3, 2003
This isn't a book you can read through once and understand thoroughly. Coveys writing style is superb, his understanding of human nature is uncanny.
He starts by forming a simile: the art of leadership is like farming. It requires daily vigilance: planting, watering, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting--in that order. If a farmer owns a cow, he doesn't just milk it when he feels like it. It is a job which needs to be done twice daily, every day. Managing (Leading) a business is exactly the same, at least if you want it to be done correctly. Many managers/leaders feel that it's okay to run a business on auto-pilot. This may be a fatal error.
Covey uses the same 7 Steps as he uses in the same-titled book. He also compares his 7 Step leadership methods with those of the great W. Edwards Deming. Throughout this book the author guides the leader/person to lead by example. To allow those he leads to be self-leaders, and to feel that they are of great importance to the company.
One of the major aims of Covey is to make a Mission Statement. This, he believes, should be done by all members of a company/corporation/family, etc.. He also stresses the age old Confucious saying, "Feed a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
I have a great deal of respect for this man, and truly believe he walks his talk. As I read this book, many of the concepts pertained to situations in my life which I was dealing with at that very time (a little haunting, perhaps inspired?). I highly recommend this book, as well as any other by this great human being and author.
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on September 26, 2001
Stephen R. Covey shows how you can become a principle-centered leader, and how you can use principle-centered leadership philosophies to more effectively manage people. Principle-centered power is created when the values of the follower and leader overlap. Control is apparent, but it is not external; it is self-control. It elicits a willingness to risk doing the right things because they are valued and modelled by the leader. People follow the leader because of who he or she is. This book is full of lists, charts, diagrams and anecdotal examples to help the reader fully comprehend the ideas contained within. The cover of the book has the famous quote, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." This quote encapsulates the intentions of the book. Covey wants to teach you how to fish. And he wants you to know it's not as simple as picking a lure and casting. Good fishermen learn through years of applying their skills. Managers become good managers through years of applying principle-centered leadership. We [...] recommend the book to managers and executives at all levels.
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on January 2, 2003
this follow-up to Covey's enormous and enduring bestseller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he applies the same framework to leadership in organizations. If you have read and remember the first book, you may find little really new in this one, although a slightly different angle on the familiar material may be more rewarding than re-reading the first. Whether or not you agree with or find useful all of Covey's seven habits, the virtue-based approach of this work can deliver the goods more lastingly than rule-based approaches that fail to change your basic method of operating. Drawing on a heritage that goes all the way back to Aristotle, Covey's habit/virtue approach to life and our priorities allows him to show convincingly that business and ethics can comfortably live together. In the midst of the incredible change continually afoot in the Innovation Economy, Covey's message is to find the principle-centered core in ourselves and our organizations. Principle-centered leadership is the natural outcome of applying Covey's original message to those in executive positions of all kinds. What is the downside to this approach? Only that this means no quick fixes. Principles and habits take hard work and may look less attractive than books offering techniques and gimmicks for improved leadership effectiveness. In the end, managers know that this downside is not real, since the quick tricks either don't work or soon fail. Covey's approach can help you find the stable, guiding core amidst the mad tumble of the business world.
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on October 16, 2003
I have concluded that the root cause of all the ills of the world is that humans do not live their lives according to the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Golden Rule is the common thread of all religions and can therefore be considered the unifying principle for every human on earth. It is probably the one concept that everyone can buy into but also one goal that everyone would admit they could and should do better. For myself I know that if I truly lived the Golden Rule I would feel much more pain at the unacceptable gap between the rich and the poor because as one of the rich I would see myself or my loved ones as one of the starving and would want to do something about it. The fact that I don't do anything about it - or not enough - means that I am just a wimp. Just a lot of hot air. I say one thing but do another. My failure, multiplied six billion times is what has turned this paradise we inherited into the crisis-ridden planet we live on today. It was a strange and wonderful discovery, therefore, that this book has been written to help me - and you should you be so inclined - to come closer to living the Golden Rule through what the author refers to as Principle-Centered Leadership.
A second conclusion is that we need more of the Mother Teresa style of leadership. She spoke very little, rolled up her sleeves and just waded into the slums of the poorest of the poor, while my leadership style has been to keep at a safe distance and say "Hey, someone should do something about this." The big difference between Mother Teresa and me is that she lived the Golden Rule while I just mouth it. Principle-Centered Leadership is the book I was seeking to help me change from a talker to a doer.
Principle-Centered Leadership will help us resolve dilemmas that cannot be resolved using conventional approaches. Our social conditioning leads us to quick-fix solutions such as cramming; we may get away with it for an exam or two but such an approach would be disastrous on a farm where natural laws operate. There are no quick-fix solutions for a marriage breakdown or for a teenager in crisis where only principle-centered solutions work. Manipulative strategies might work for a while but will eventually result in a loss of trust. We usually think in terms of learning new skills rather than showing more integrity to basic principles. Principle-Centered Leadership introduces a new paradigm - that we center our lives and our leadership of organizations and people on inviolate principles very much like gravity is an inviolate law of nature. These principles constitute the roots of every civilized society, family or institution that has endured and prospered. Changing habits, developing virtues, keeping promises and living in harmony with principles of fairness, equity, justice, integrity, honesty, and trust is what this book is all about. Subordinating oneself to higher purposes and principles is the essence of highest humanity and the foundation of effective leadership. Adherence to these principles uplift, ennoble, fulfill, empower and inspire. Covey believes that violations of these principles cause societal decline. Principle-Centered Leadership is based on the reality that natural laws cannot be violated with impunity.
We tend to live our lives in compartments, each with its own value system and expectations. We wear our Sunday hat but take it off the other six days of the week. Centering life on correct principles is the key to developing the internal power we require to realize many of our dreams because we are more balanced, unified, organized, and rooted. Principle-Centered Leadership and living cultivates four sources of strength - security, guidance, wisdom and power, giving a foundation to all relationships and decisions and a sense of stewardship over time, talents, money, relationships, family and ourselves. Because we feel secure we are not threatened by change and criticism. Because we are guided we discover our mission and can write the script for our lives. Because we have wisdom we learn from mistakes and seek continuous improvement. Because we have power we can communicate and cooperate even under stress and fatigue.
People on the low end of the guidance continuum lead selfish, sensual or social lifestyles while those at the high end have lives centered on true principles from inspired and inspiring sources. People at the low end of the security continuum show extreme insecurity while those at the high end have a high sense of worth, self-esteem and personal strength. People at the low end of the wisdom continuum base their thinking on distorted, discordant principles while those at the high end show good judgement, discernment and comprehension. People at the low end of the power continuum appear powerless, insecure, and react to circumstances while those at the high end are proactive, make things happen, and take responsibility for their feelings, thoughts and actions.
It is difficult to imagine who would not profit from this book because Principle-Centered Leadership affects all aspects of our life and brings back harmony to the different compartments in which we live. If your marriage needs attention this book will help. If you want to improve your business performance, you will learn some useful lessons. If you want to be a better employee this book will give you plenty of ideas. If you just want to become a better person, there is no better place to start than absorbing the lessons in Principle-Centered Leadership.
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on February 1, 2003
For the most part American businesses have traditionally ignored the fact that their workplaces are small societies where employees have many of the same social and political concerns and needs as in the broader society. Renowned management guru, Stephen Covey, offers a "principle-centered leadership" (PCL) paradigm for businesses that supposedly rests on time-tested social norms and values.
The maintenance of order and stability is of primary importance in any society. The smooth operation of virtually all American businesses is achieved through the exercise of the unilateral authority and power of a management hierarchy that views employees as commodities or economic units, not social actors. In such firms, social interaction is limited to financial exchanges or to some form of coercion. In the "human relations paradigm," authority may be somewhat more benevolent, recognizing or manipulating emotional needs, but is not weakened. In the "human relations paradigm," the creativity and talent of employees are better utilized, though still in a utilitarian sense. In all of these paradigms, employees are only a means to the ends of the company. Their initiative is often not appreciated, if not prohibited. In other words, employees are not regarded as social and political equals in typical companies.
So what is wrong with this state of affairs? These managerial outlooks have generally worked for American businesses. But according to the author the intense competition of an infinitely more complex and dynamic economic landscape requires firms to empower and use all of the talents of their employees. He suggests that a new principle-centered leadership paradigm is needed that focuses on the social and political "principles" of "fairness, equity, justice, integrity, honesty, and trust." It is supposedly a paradigm that extends full citizenship within a firm to all employees.
What are some of the characteristics of a firm operating under the aegis of a PCL paradigm? The empowered employee, as the base of the company, is trustworthy, which is to say that he or she is competent and possesses the character traits of integrity and maturity. Such individual trustworthiness raises trusting relationships among all members of the firm to the level as being the basis of the firm's success. Trust also facilitates highly effective communications throughout the company. The company is governed according to win-win performance agreements with negotiated accountability and consequences stipulations. With such agreements in place, explicit managerial control is replaced by self-supervision. The author maintains that companies that have adopted PCL are no longer autocratic, but have created a form of democracy.
But how does a PCL paradigm come to exist within an organization? And is it democratic? Well, as it turns out, the establishment of a PCL organization is very much top-down driven. It is for wise, top-level leaders to transform their organizations by "communicating vision, clarifying purposes," and establishing an overriding, governing mission. A mission statement is used to "heighten" the sense of contribution of employees. The author devotes considerable space to suggesting behavior to increase an executive's honor and power with others or to achieve influence. The focus on top leaders is continued with a repackaging of the author's "Seven Habits of Effective People," and an outline of observable characteristics of principle-centered leaders. It is clear that the PCL paradigm seems to be based on charismatic leadership, which usually relies on appeals to emotion and not careful deliberation or extensive participation.
In virtually any democracy, the rights of citizens to secure equal participation and due process is based on legislation or a constitution that concretely defines those rights and stipulates the manner to achieve those rights. The health of a democracy is never left to the good intentions of leaders. Yet that is exactly what the author suggests, regarding a twelve-word mission statement as a constitution, "a framework for governing." The fact that a mission statement is consented to, in some sense, does not give it legitimacy as a constitution. The author makes the classic business claim that formal rules and regulations that ensure that employees can obtain equal voice and impartial adjudication of disputes are impediments to a principle-focused firm. For the author, security is an internal attitude and is not based on a bundle of rights found in a real constitution. The author's definitive statement concerning democracy within firms is that employees interested in politics (who exercises power within the firm) need to shape up (abandon their quest for formal rights) or ship out (leave or be fired without formal due process).
The author bases much of his concept of principle-centered leadership on his contention that principles of human interaction are "self-evident, objective, and external," much like natural processes. That is profoundly incorrect. Equity, fairness, and justice are all contentious issues that are often subjected to vigorous debate among all parties. The all-wise leader does not have a hold on the definition of those ideals.
Like most books of this genre, this author makes virtually no reference to other authorities or scholars in such fields as sociology, political science, or psychology. The reader is left to wonder about the bases of the author's forays into topics of motivation, social and political theory, and organizational behavior. For example, the author acknowledges that systems and environments greatly influence us, yet his answer to the problem of establishing quality is to create principle-oriented persons who simply overcome organizational impediments to quality. That is questionable sociology.
PCL adopts the façade of employee empowerment, but in reality it is far more a paradigm in motivation. The goal in PCL is to subtly convince employees that the firm is being run in a benevolent, equitable manner by all-knowing, high-minded leaders towards lofty goals. Conflicts are downplayed as insignificant in comparison with the widespread, unmitigated devotion to a transcendent mission.
This book does not make its case for PCL. It is at best a vague concept with little grounding in social science and at worst simply another form of managerial manipulation. Undoubtedly, the patina of empowerment will persuade some.
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on April 7, 1999
This book is a natural follow up to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, making it clear that a highly effective person can become a natural leader. However, the highly-effective leader needs to practice and preach principles that make everyone comfortable, are positive for humanity and results in trust. Imagine the untapped potential companies could realize if they were run by highly-effective principle-centered leaders. This brings to mind those "stalls" that Donald Mitchell, Carol Coles and Robert Metz talk about in "The 2,000 Percent Solution" would disappear. The Procrastination Stall (We'll do it tomorrow), The Communications Stall (the message is not understood), The Disbelief Stall (We can't do it), The Tradition Stall (We've always done it this way), The Bureaucratic Stall (too many unproductive policies and procedures), The Misconception Stall (based on poor assumptions) and The Unattractiveness Stall (Not wanting to wade in murky waters) would get out of the way of impede progress. The principle-centered leader would ask the right questions, do the right things, and match the person to the task for passion and success. As Stephen Covey helps to create more principle-centered leaders, Don Mitchell helps to teach them how to create 2,000 percent solutions. Together they teach us what success is all about.
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