Sunday, January 08, 2012

Book Review (#36 of 2011) Stephen R. Covey - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Just got back from a great, short trip to Ankara where I've secured housing for my family. But my departure coincided with the end of a road trip and family reunion in Chicago which means I had time to knock out a couple more books before New Years.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey. I had never read Covey's book, but I assume that almost everyone I know who has held some type of leadership or management position has read it as it's probably the all-time bestselling management/leadership book and easily one of the most influential.

The Seven Habits:
1. Be Proactive - means not blaming others for your circumstances but owning up to them yourself.
2. Begin with the End in Mind - Character matters and underlies everything else. You should have a mission statement that sets out your goal. Each day you "flex your proactive muscles" to make it happen.
3. Put First Things First - Tasks fall into one of four categories and you should focus on the ones that are important but not necessarily urgent.  That will help guide your organization and keep things from becoming important and urgent, ie: a crisis.
4. Think Win-Win - Negotiate hard. It's a little like Adam Smith or David Ricardo's idea that two parties don't enter a transaction unless both benefit. So, maximize your benefit and make sure the other party feels it is winning too.
5. Seek First to Understand, Then be Understood - This helps generate Win-Win, and is a basic sales technique. Don't expect to get what you want without respecting the other party's wants.
6. Synergize - Be an effective leader that fosters teamwork and brings out the best in everyone. It's more than the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, but that's the basic idea.
7. Sharpen the Saw - Take time to rest and do activities that improve your physical health and spiritual well-being.

I don't know how many hundreds of books are out there that have built on Covey's concepts.  There are a lot of basic, timeless truths that he puts simply and I guess that's why this book is so hugely popular.  I'd like to put him in a room with Frederick Taylor and see how it goes.

Reading this book tempts me to size up leaders of organizations by how well they follow the seven habits. I like thinking about the first three the best, particularly in evaluating my time management. Is what I'm doing right now important, and how urgent is it?

I give it 3.5 stars.

No comments: