Stephen Covey is best known for his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective
People. His new book, The 8th Habit, adds another habit and builds upon the
information in the earlier work. The newest habit is “Find your voice and inspire
others to find theirs.” Covey defines this as being “the nexus of talent (your
natural gifts and strengths), passion (those things that naturally energize, excite,
motivate, and inspire you), need (including what the world needs enough to pay
you for), and conscience (that still, small voice that assures you of what is right
and that prompts you to actually do it).” He says that you can find your voice by
asking three questions:
“What does my life situation ask of me now?”
“What should I do in my present responsibilities, duties, stewardships?”
“What would be the wise action to take?”
Dr. Covey makes extensive use of the number four in this book, building on what
he calls the “Whole Person Paradigm.” See attached table for a listing of some
of these 4s. The major point that he makes about the Whole Person, is that
when any part is neglected, the whole suffers. For instance, an employee may
be paid fairly and treated kindly, but if he does meaningless work, he cannot
choose to work at his best.
Dr. Covey lists the four major organizational problems as low trust, poor/no vision
and goals, misalignment, and disempowerment. In low trust, the spirit or
conscience is neglected. The old response (what Covey calls the Industrial Age
response) to low trust is that the boss makes all the decisions. Covey advocates
that in the new role of leadership, the response to low trust should be modeling
trustworthiness. For poor/no vision or goals (neglect of the mind or vision), the
old response is more rules, but the new leadership role should be pathfinding,
where the course is jointly determined. Where there is misalignment (body politic
or discipline neglected), the old response is to make things and people more
efficient, while the new role is to align systems, goals, and processes. The
Industrial Age response to disempowerment (heart or passion neglected) is to
control and use carrot and stick techniques. The new leadership role is to
empower people and to focus on results rather than methods.
There are also four “Disciplines of Execution” identified. Covey’s description of
exactly what a “Discipline of Execution” means is a bit hazy, but the four points
he makes are clearer:
“Focus on the wildly important goals”
“Create a compelling scoreboard”
“Translate lofty goals into specific actions”
“Hold each other accountable – all of the time”
The book is an admittedly slow read, but is full of important points that can be
used with many different training topics. Included with the book is a DVD of short
vignettes, some of which are quite good. These cannot be used in a training
session, however, without specific permission. The book does refer to some free
information on the Internet at the following sites: