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Stephen Covey on Leadership -- Interview by Sharif Khan

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      Article Title: Stephen Covey on Leadership -- Interview by Sharif Khan

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      Article Title:
      Stephen Covey on Leadership -- Interview by Sharif Khan

      Article Description:
      While making a rare public appearance in Toronto at the
      Mississauga Living Arts Centre, world-respected leadership
      authority Dr. Stephen R. Covey granted Sharif Khan a
      personal interview.

      Additional Article Information:
      1770 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
      Distribution Date and Time: Wed Feb 08 12:10:14 EST 2006

      Written By: Sharif Khan
      Copyright: 2006
      Contact Email: mailto:sharif@...

      Article URL:

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      Stephen Covey on Leadership -- Interview by Sharif Khan
      Copyright � 2006 Sharif Khan
      Psychology of the Hero Soul

      "The call and need of a new era is for greatness. It's for
      fulfillment, passionate execution and significant contribution."
      - Stephen R. Covey, from The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to

      Making a rare public appearance in Toronto at the Mississauga
      Living Arts Centre, world-respected leadership authority and
      author of the international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly
      Effective People, named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of
      the Twentieth Century, Dr. Stephen R. Covey spoke on his latest
      book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness to a packed

      Having taught principle-centered leadership for over four
      decades, this living legend and world icon, with his quiet energy
      and grace, epitomized a call to greatness and earned the respect
      of the audience -- standing as a grandfather figure for
      unleashing human potential in many generations.

      A hero to millions, Dr. Covey is known the world over for his
      landmark work around helping people take profound ideas,
      philosophies, and principles and distilling them into easy-to-use
      daily habits that anyone can apply. In his inspirational
      presentation at the Living Arts Centre, he conveyed simple yet
      very powerful gems of wisdom that I found practical and useful.
      For example, if you want your children to develop a love of
      learning and never have to rag on them again for not doing their
      homework and not getting better grades, simply ask them when they
      return from school, "Teach me what you've learned today." By
      using this one simple habit, Covey claims he's never had a
      problem encouraging his children to learn because teaching is the
      best way to learn.

      Another gem he talked about is the habit of seeking to understand
      before being understood through empathic listening. In the
      audience of over 800 people, he asked how many people had any
      formal training on listening; only 13 hands went up revealing
      just how ego-centric of a me-me-me culture we live in. Covey
      related how many Native Indian tribes use what's called the
      Talking Stick which is used in all meetings where the person
      holding the Talking Stick is the only person allowed to speak
      until he or she feels understood; when the possessor of the
      Talking Stick feels completely understood, then, and only then,
      is the Talking Stick passed on to the next person. This creates
      an incredible understanding and synergy among the team. Every
      business would do well to have a Talking Stick!

      Covey then went on to the crux of his message which is the 8th
      Habit of becoming an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity
      by finding one's voice and helping others to find theirs.
      According to Covey, the main problem is that businesses are still
      trapped in the old paradigm of Industrial Age thinking even
      though we're well into the Knowledge Worker Age. What's required
      is a new paradigm he calls the "whole body paradigm" of
      integrating body, mind, heart, and spirit which he respectively
      equates to the principles of discipline, vision, passion, and
      conscience. The Industrial Age is still very much focused on the
      body (things, systems, structures, procedures, efficiency,
      bottom-line). But Covey estimates that approximately 80 percent
      of all the value added to goods and services now comes from
      knowledge work versus things. Twenty years ago that number was
      the inverse: only 20 percent.

      So the key is not behavior � it's the map. The key is the
      accuracy of the map. Once paradigm shifts the behavior will also
      shift. Covey clearly illustrated this point by asking everyone to
      close their eyes and point "North." When he asked us to open
      our eyes and look around, I noticed everyone was pointing in
      different directions! In a similar vein, the majority of
      organizations have their people pointing in different directions;
      sighting a recent Harris Poll, Covey states that "only 37 percent
      of workers say they have a clear understanding of what their
      organization is trying to achieve and why." No one knows where
      true "North" is. There is no moral compass, no conscience, no
      guiding spirit.

      Part of the solution, according to Covey, is to have a
      transcendent goal, what he calls a WIG or Wildly Important Goal,
      that serves a greater purpose. Only once this goal is clearly
      communicated to everyone in an organization can quantum
      improvements begin to happen in the workplace.

      Here is my interview with Dr. Covey revealing his latest insights
      from his most recent book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to

      What sacrifices have you made to be where you are today?

      I have worked very hard to dedicate my personal and professional
      life to principlecentered living. I am driven by a passion and
      conscience to spread understanding for principles and how to
      apply them to reach greatness. To that extent, there is no
      sacrifice � only a passionate, relentless commitment to my work,
      family, community and church to make a lasting difference.

      What in your opinion is the most important attribute of a leader
      and why?

      I believe the most important attribute for a leader is being
      principle-centered. Centering on principles that are universal
      and timeless provides a foundation and compass to guide every
      decision and every act. I've based my life's work on promoting
      principles and teaching the power that resides in principle-
      centered leadership. Principles are not my invention; they are
      self-evident and are found throughout the world. If you look at
      all enduring philosophies, religions and thoughts, you will find
      principles such as integrity, compassion, trust, honesty,
      accountability and others at their core. I simply translated
      these principles into a framework of habits, which when followed
      with consistency and frequency transforms one's character and
      allows one to earn the moral authority necessary for enduring

      I must also clarify the definition of leadership, which is sadly
      and narrowly defined as position, title, status or rank. This is
      formal authority and not necessarily leadership. Through years of
      study, teaching and working with people all over the world,
      from all walks of life, I have determined that leadership is:
      Communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that
      they come to see it in themselves. It is the influence we have
      with others to help them discover their own voice, to find their
      own purpose, to make their unique contribution, and to release
      their potential, that truly defines leadership. Thus, leadership
      extends to the many personal and professional roles we play � as
      workers, parents, children, teachers, students, swamis, you name
      it � and the choice we make to live by principles to help others
      find their voice.

      In your book, 8th Habit, you talk about finding one's voice and
      developing one's "unique personal significance." How does one
      begin doing that?

      To achieve greater heights each person must be challenged to find
      their voice � their unique personal significance and purposeful
      meaning � and help others to find theirs. Voice lies at the nexus
      of talent, passion, need and conscience. When anyone engages in
      work that taps into their talent and fuels their passion � that
      rises out of a great need in the world that they feel drawn by
      conscience to meet � therein lies their voice in life. The 8th
      Habit is all about how to find your voice and help others to
      find theirs.

      What leader do you really admire and why?

      One immediate leader who comes to mind is Muhammad Yunus, founder
      of the Grameen Bank. His story is one that illustrates the path
      to finding one's voice and helping others find theirs. Muhammad
      saw a need, felt his conscience move him to try and fill that
      need and applied his talents and passion to fill it. In the
      process, he found his voice and helped others to find theirs.

      Muhammad wanted to help his impoverished fellow citizens in
      Bangladesh. He met a woman who made bamboo stools only to make
      two U.S. pennies each day. He inquired about her work and found
      that the woman had no money to buy the necessary bamboo, so she
      was forced to borrow money from a trader on condition that she
      sell him her finished product at a price he dictated. This poor
      woman in essence was held hostage by this trader.

      This woman was not alone, there was an entire village of 42 hard
      working people working in unbearable circumstances and Muhammad
      calculated that it only required $27 U.S. dollars to help them
      out. He immediately gave the money to the people and told them
      it was a loan to be re-paid when they were able.

      Muhammad even went further to ask the local bank to loan these
      villagers additional money and offered himself as a guarantor.
      Much to the skepticism and surprise of the bankers, the villagers
      paid every penny back on several loans.

      Muhammad eventually expanded this loan program by creating his
      own microcredit lending institution called the Grameen Bank, so
      he could help numerous villages.

      Grameen Bank now works with more than 46,000 villages giving
      micro-loans, lending approximately half a billion dollars a year
      to empower the poor (96% of whom are women) to produce and sell
      their goods and build housing. So far, the bank has assisted 3.7
      million people. The micro-credit movement has now spread
      throughout the world.

      What advice would you give youth who will become future leaders
      of tomorrow?

      In my 8th Habit book I share the idea that everyone chooses one
      of two roads in life, whether you're older or younger, man or
      woman, rich or poor. The most traveled road is the one that takes
      us to mediocrity and the other less traveled road takes us to
      greatness and meaning. The first road limits us and prevents us
      from realizing our full potential. This road is often the quick-
      fix or short-cut approach to life. It often lures us to it when
      we don't take accountability for ourselves or see ourselves
      as victims. My advice to the youth is to avoid the road of
      mediocrity. It's probably hard for them to see into the longterm,
      but if they will try to see themselves as human beings with vast
      potential, and see that next to life itself their greatest gift
      is choice � they can choose their responses to whatever comes to
      them in life, and take responsibility for their choices, their
      behaviors, their feelings and choose to create their future.

      My son, Sean, wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
      to help [young people] become their best selves. He speaks
      wonderfully to the youth (much better than I), and I would
      recommend his book to anyone wanting to start good habits
      at a young age.

      Sharif Khan (http://www.herosoul.com; sharif@...) is
      a freelance writer, motivational speaker, coach, and author of
      Psychology of the Hero Soul, an inspirational book on awakening
      the hero within and developing people�s leadership potential.
      He provides inspirational keynotes and leadership seminars and
      also helps companies develop empowering content through his
      copywriting services. To contact Sharif directly, call
      (416) 417-1259.

      --- END ARTICLE ---


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