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Stephen R. Covey. Free Press, hardcover & DVD edition, 2004 (paperback edition, 2006). 432 pages. $27. ISBN: 0-684-84665-9. www.simonsays.com.
Reviewed By Sonja Knauft
We all want to be great, but what does it take to achieve greatness? What is missing in our lives, professional or personal, that stops us from getting to the highest level? In the follow-up to his mega-best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey opens readers' eyes about the path to potential greatness. His theme is how to find your voice to help others find theirs.
What he writes about in The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness is not new. You may have even heard your mother and father say the same or similar things. It's the way that he tells us what we already know that will spark a renewed interest in trying to do what we know we should.
Covey uses recurring references to how the marketplace and society have transitioned from the industrial age to the age of the knowledge-based worker to illustrate his central tenet—that being an effective manager will not be enough for an economy that has knowledge, and not machines, as its main asset. To succeed in business and in our personal lives, we must move beyond managing people to leading them. Showing people the greatness within themselves (their worth) and helping them find their own voices is what the true goal of a leader should be.
As Covey expresses it, "When you engage in work that taps your talent and fuels your passion—that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet—therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul's code."
As parents or employers, we are always wanting to get the most out of our children and our employees. The motive for doing so with our employees is not always as pure as the motive we have with respect to our children. However, whether it is in our personal or professional lives, Covey makes us realize that to be a leader you need to lead yourself first.
He does not define "leader" as a position or title but rather as a way of involving yourself in the lives of others and helping them find their greatness. The four roles of a leader, Covey explains, are as follows: modeling, path finding, aligning and empowering
The 8th Habit guides readers through the steps to achieve these roles.
One of the main ingredients to being a great leader is trust. The type of trust that Covey writes of is not trust in the leader but, instead, the leader trusting those around him or her to make the right choices because the leader has given those individuals the opportunity to do what their talents allow them to. His metaphor for life is that it's like "white water"—a constantly changing and churning environment. To survive the turbulence, individuals need to have something inside them that guides their decisions, while also independently understanding the purpose and guiding principles of the team or organization. If you manage, no one can hear your commands over the noise and roar of the water. But if you lead in accordance with Covey's definition, your relationships—be they at home, in the community or at the workplace—will thrive and survive.
You could read this book in one or two days. However, to really digest what Covey is talking about, you will want to invest some time in reading it more thoroughly. But the time spent will be worth it, whether you are looking to improve the bottom line in your business or to create more fulfilling relationships with family, friends, colleagues and others.