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Laura Anderson EBS

Executive Book Summary of
The 7 Habits of Highly effective People
By Stephen Covey
Summary- There are no shortcuts to personal improvement and
this is not a quick-fix book. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
focuses on Private Victories of improving interpersonal paradigms
and Public Victories of positive interaction and influence of
extrapersonal relationships. Covey utilizes his experiences as a
father, husband, professor and consultant to guide the reader into
deep self-reflection about their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours.
Once the reader has evaluated their paradigms and past habits,
Covey provides a model through application suggestions to bring
about positive change in each reader all while identifying the many
qualities of an effective leader.
HOw effective are you?
How often do you love, respect and accept all parts of yourself unconditionally?
How often are you 100% honest and truthful with yourself and others?
How often do you tackle life issues with openness, resilience and reflection?
Stephen Covey has influenced millions of people by helping them change their
perspective or paradigm. Covey emphasizes that you are in control of yourself and your
interactions with others and many of our problems stem from our outlooks which
influence our behaviours. There are a lot of skills that can help us improve our behaviours
like learning effective communication, however, skills will not change our character which
influence our habits that influence our behaviours. To change our character, we need to
contemplate how we interact with ourselves, loved ones, co-workers, friends and
The 7 Habits focus on character development areas that are dependant on the reader
(personal projections, attitudes, etc) and then a focus on the interdependent areas of the
reader (relationships). All the habits fit together just like a puzzle. However, Covey insists
that the dependant (internal) character development must be done before any effective
character change can happen in the interdependent (external). Since leadership is highly
interdependent, leaders must first make the dependant character changes to be
effective leaders.
Habit 1 & 2
HABIT 3 & 4
HABIT 5 & 6
Critical Analysis
PRivate Victories
Habit #1 - Be proactive
Proactivity is the concept that each individual
has the choice to choose how they are affected
by their environment, people, even their own
beliefs and attitudes. When you are proactive
you choose your response through
empowerment, however, when you are reactive,
you let the situation have power over you.
Page 79
Responsibility is a major aspect of proactivity. “Look at the word responsibility - the ability to
choose your response” (p. 78). Proactive people do not blame their circumstance or condition for
their behaviour, they understand that their behaviour is a product of their choices.
Language is a key element to how we can produce
choices that reflect proactivity.
Reactive Language
Proactive Language
They make me so mad.
I can’t do that.
I have to.
I control my own feelings.
I choose to.
I want to.
Experience Sharing Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist and
holocaust survivor, was able to
choose freedom during his time
at the death camps through his
decision that his capture would
not affect him.
“For a full day, listen to your language and to the language of the people around
you. How often do you use reactive phrases like “I can’t,” or “I have to”?
Habit #2 - Begin with the end in mind
Personal Leadership and Management- Leadership determines what
the right things are and management is how to accomplish those things.
To be effective, the person needs to understand their mission first then
they need to know how they want to achieve their goals. Each person
has one or more principles at their center that influence our decisions
and therefore habits. Security, Wisdom, Power and Guidance as life
support factors are interdependent and need to have a balance (which is
a choice).
These centers include the 10 principles that can be a combination
that account for the reason behind our choices however this
creates a rollercoaster effect. Ideally, individuals want to create
one clear center “from which we derive a high degree of security,
guidance, wisdom and power, empowering proactivity” p. 128.
Reflect upon what our motivation are and our strategies to achieve
those goals through visualization of your roles and deciding which
roles take priority.
“One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more
effective in life is that they don’t think broadly enough.” p. 143
Record your ideal character, contributions and achievements for your family,
friends, work and community to understand what you want to achieve in the end.
Habit #3 - Put First Things First
4 Generations of Time Management- In order to be effective
personally and externally in our relationships, there needs to be an
analysis of the tasks that we perform and their relevance to our
mission statement. The tasks urgency and importance dictates how
we live our lives. If nothing is urgent or important we are living a lazy
life, however if every task is urgent and important, we live stressed
burnt out lives. It is important to utilize the Time Management
Matrix, to choose how those tasks affect our choices and how we
can effectively delegate to other people.
Effective Scheduling helps reach personal goals and manage tasks
that you can assign to others, demonstrating effective leadership.
Gofer Delegation focuses on replicating the managers methods.
These managers think and act like producers.
Stewardship Delegation involves up front, clear understanding and
commitment of expectation for Desired Results, Guidelines,
Resources, Accountability, and Consequences. These managers are
focused on the result.
“Trust is the highest form of human motivation” p. 187
“Identify a Quadrant 2 activity you know has been neglected in your life - one that if done
well, would have a significant impact either personally or professionally” p. 188.
Public Victories
Habit #4 - think Win/win
6 Paradigms of Human Interaction
There is not a ‘best’ option because different situations call for
different approaches, however no matter who you are, once you
interact with someone you are in a position of leadership and
effective leaders Think Win/Win. Similar to Servant Leadership,
Win/Win leaders have the perspective that when you win, they win.
No Deal
The Five Dimensions of Win/Win principles begins with the
character traits integrity, maturity and abundance mentality.
These character traits script our proactivity to include
conceptuality. “From the foundation of character, we build
and maintain Win/Win Relationships” through trust develop
by credibility from our continuous behaviours (Emotional
Bank Accounts) p. 233. Once Win/Win Relationship are
developed, Agreements can then come into the interaction.
The elements of Stewardship Delegation (Desired Results, Guidelines,
Resources, Accountability, and Consequences) also are the key
elements to Win/Win Agreements to make effective partnerships.
Select a specific relationship that you would like to develop a Win/Win
Agreement. Examine both sides of the relationship including perspectives
and an mutually beneficial solutions.
Habit #5 - Seek First to understand, then to be understood
The key to interpersonal relationships is effective communication. We often are more
interested in solving the problem of others during communication or sharing our own
experiences to truly understand their situation.
Perspective - Your optometrist wouldn’t recommend their prescription for your eyesight problems.
There are various degrees of listening; ignoring, selective,
and attentive, however, to practice Empathetic Listening
there is an understanding from the speaker’s frame of
reference. To be effective, listen for feelings, behaviours,
and emotions.
Take into account all of the known variables to ensure that
there is common understanding. Diagnosing before you
prescribe your solutions is important in order for the
solution to be effective.
If you are trying to work together in a
marriage, job, family, and community,
it is crucial to take into consideration
perspectives. Facts or paradigms
differ from person to person with
many factors influencing our
perspective like age, gender, race,
trauma, and centers . “As you learn to
listen deeply to other people, you will
discover tremendous differences in
perception” p. 265.
Habit 5 is something you can practice right now. You can put aside your autobiography and genuinely
seek to understand (p. 269).
Next time you catch yourself evaluating, prescribing or presenting your ideas before
you truly understand, stop and acknowledge your actions and apologize.
Habit #6 - Synergize
“When you communicate synergistically, you are simply opening your mind and heart and
expressions to new possibilities, alternatives and options” p. 275. Synergy is the ability to
understand that others have different ideas, skills and perspectives that can improve our
concepts and practice.
Synergy in the Classroom
Synergy in Business
When the educator and the learners work
together because their is a mutual
understanding and agency in the transformation
of knowledge.
To replace boredom and compliance with idea
sharing and innovation of practices. When the
change is not hierarchically imposed put
developed through understanding.
Trust and cooperation are the key elements to
collaborative communication through valuing the
difference in other people.
Buddhism calls synergy “the middle way”, it is not a
compromise, it is a higher way when there is an
understanding and action to meet others’ needs.
“Make a list of people that you interact with that irritate you. Do they
represent different views that could lead to synergy if you had greater
intrinsic security and valued the difference?
Habit #7 - Sharpen the Saw
The 4 Dimensions of Renewal promote
effective people to support themselves in
continuous development of their Physical,
Mental, Social/Emotional and Spiritual needs.
This habit is closely intertwined with
proactivity since you need to be aware and
choose your behaviours in order to develop
ourselves further. Effective people Commit,
Do and Learn, over and over again.
“There is no shortcut to developing our habits. The law of
harvest governs, we will always reap what we sow, never
more, never less” (p. 318).
Perspective - To effectively cut down a tree, you will need to
stop and sharpen the saw.
Commit to writing down specific “sharpen the saw” activities in all four
dimensions every week, to do them, and then evaluate your performance.
Leadership Connections
Throughout The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, there are many connections to leadership
approaches that are outlined in Northouse’s Leadership: Theory and practice such as
Behavioural Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Servant Leadership, and Situational
Leadership. The theme of this book is that through an effective foundation of personal
character and intrapersonal relationships, including management and leadership, people can
flourish and great things can be accomplished for leaders and followers.
Critical Analysis
This is a very applicable book that is a resources that should be reviewed after personal
changes, dilemmas, or on a periodic basis. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a practical
read for all demographics and roles within society. There is a very systematic flow that is
practical and grows the reader’s understanding for themselves and their choices. This is paired
with Application Suggestions that appear after each habit which includes practical ways for the
reader to engage and apply the material. Overall, readers can learn deeply about themselves
and are offered insight into how to make positive changes.
Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic.
New York: Free Press.
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: