Whether you’re starting a new business or looking to make changes to your existing business, it can be hard to figure out your management style. But even if it seems difficult and other tasks feel more urgent, identifying your management style and keeping it up to date is paramount to running a successful business.
You don’t have to discover it on your own, though. You can draw from a rich history of management theories, such as the one developed by Stephen Covey. Here is a breakdown of Covey’s ideas and how you can use them to improve your company overall.
Through his uplifting and straightforward guidance, Covey exhibited a lifelong dedication to helping others control their destiny. His 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the most influential business books of the 20th century.
Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people are among the most widely used management innovation strategies in recent years. The Covey model is an “inside-out” philosophy, which means that change starts inside each of us and works its way out. He considered a person’s character to be a collection of habits that consist of skill, knowledge and desire. Covey claimed that to be “effective,” people should follow these seven important habits:
Now that you know the basics of Covey’s management theory, it’s time to put it into action. Follow these steps to implement the seven habits of highly effective people.
Encourage your employees to read Covey’s 7 Habits, and discuss the book over lunch or a workshop. See what they think about the book, and answer any questions they may have. Talk together as a group about what those habits would look like in your workplace. How can your employees be proactive about completing tasks? How can you organize tasks and projects to start with the end in mind? What does each employee need to feel like they have “won” in a situation? What’s the best way for your team to communicate?
Covey believed that our actions are the result of past conditioning and that we must change our habits, and who we are, in order to succeed. Those steps are also necessary when your company incorporates a new management style. We start our lives dependent on others; similarly, we begin jobs reliant on our colleagues to show us the ropes.
The initial three habits of Covey’s management training take you from dependence to independence. The first habit calls on managers to be proactive, rather than reactive, and to take control of their environment. Instead of dealing with problems as they arise, managers should figure out how to lead their teams in a way that minimizes opportunities for disruption.
The second habit requires managers to think of the future, always keeping in mind the desired outcome. With this sense of direction, they can cut out distractions and unnecessary tasks to lead their team to achieve the ultimate goal. The third habit means that managers must not forget to manage themselves, implementing activities that accomplish the second habit. By allowing for self-care and self-improvement, managers will understand the significance of each habit and establish credibility with their team.
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Once you accomplish the first three habits, the next three habits allow you to become interdependent. In other words, managers become just as dependent on their staff as their staff is dependent on them. Everyone in the workplace should understand that they operate together as a team; each team member is necessary for the business to succeed.
To be successful at interdependence, you must communicate well with others to develop positive relationships, as the fifth habit means you try to understand others before you get them to understand you. Conversations are not battles to be won or lost. Implement healthy communication habits that reduce blame and encourage generous listening. The sixth habit says everyone should work together to achieve mutual goals.
Habit seven, “sharpen the saw,” means that you continually learn from your experiences in order to make yourself a better person. Do not consider the job done once you have “completed” all seven steps with your company; plan ahead for methods of reflection and renewal. How often will you use the habits to reevaluate your practices? How will you incorporate new employees into the seven-habits system? This roadmap is crucial to prevent backslides and stagnation.
In 2004, Covey added an eighth habit, which allows you to go “from effectiveness to greatness” on personal, leadership and organizational levels. Doing so requires us to act with integrity and inspire others to do the same. This motivation is excellent for your whole team to keep in mind, as it can help to inspire your employees. Lead by example, and bring your best self to the workplace every day.
Once you decide to implement Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people, growth and innovation are sure to follow.