Building a coaching habit, as difficult as it is, is an “essential leadership behavior” that should be adopted by most managers in order to:
Help their team unlock their true potential.
Make their team members more confident and therefore self-sufficient.
Provide purpose and value to their team on a daily basis.
Seven Essential Questions
Leaders and managers often admit that they don’t get or give effective coaching.
Most often, coaching is too theoretical, too boring, unpractical and not empowering enough. The greatest reason why coaching doesn’t seem to work is because it is difficult to shake off old habits.
There are seven questions that you can pose, one at a time, to coach someone in seven minutes or less. These seven questions will assist you in leading a full conversation and successfully coaching yourself and your team.
1. The Kickstart Question: “What’s on Your Mind?”
The Kickstart question breaks the ice and helps you start an opened and focused conversation.
It allows people to easily talk about the things that matter to them the most.
2. The AWE Question: “And What Else?”
The advice that leaders and managers gives is not always the best.
The AWE question restrains the need to give advice and instead helps you to stay quiet, curious and genuine.
It stops you from offering up advice in the form of a question.
3. The Focus Question: “What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?”
Leaders may want to always have the solution and be able to fix the problem without identifying it or having their team fix the problem.
The Focus questions helps you help your team identify the challenge that needs sorting out
4. The Foundation Question: “What Do You Want?”
It takes courage to ask for what you want knowing that the answer can be possible be no, that your question can be misinterpreted.
The Foundation question is a direct question that gives people the “responsibility for their own freedom” which is difficult to do.
5. The Lazy Question: “How Can I Help?”
Leaders and managers love to step in, be helpful and feel needed. However, this need to help gradually becomes the root of their frustration.
With the Lazy question, you get a clear and direct request. Then, you stop helping for no reason and you save up on time.
6. The Strategic Question: “If You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To?”
Leaders have to be clear about their boundaries which means they have to know how and when to say yes or no.
The Strategic question allows you to be clear about what you want, to be committed to your “yes” and definitive to your “no”.
7. The Learning Question: “What Was Most Useful for You?”
Leaders need to create learning spaces for their teams.
The Learning question is a great way for you to finish the conversation and leave people with a sense of empowerment.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier is easy and fast book to read, with great tips for managers who are looking to improve their leadership and communication skills.
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier is written for on the clock managers who have no time for long-winded trainings.
The seven questions are direct and allow leaders to minimize their stress and to improve the interaction with their team.
Furthermore, The Coaching Habit presents several tips and scenarii to help managersspecifically identify their emotional, situational or locational triggers. With The Coaching Habit, managers are able to pick up some new skills and define different habits in less than 10 minutes.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good As you think it is.
Read books, listen to music, watch shows that will inspire you and that do not necessarily pertain to your are of interest.
Learn new skills. Learning new skills will give you the opportunity to explore.
Remove fear or other negative emotions that may block your thinking process.
7. Write down whatever comes to your mind
Ideas come to you at impromptu moments. It becomes handy to keep a notebook with you at all times so you can write them down as soon as possible.
To jumpstart your imagination, you can try brainstorming techniques or stare at a blank canvas as long as you need it. Blank canvas can be intimidating because there is an unlimited amount of outcomes.
When you are writing down your ideas, remember that there are no good or bad idea, just an unlimited number of ideas.
8. Monitor your surroundings
To get inspiration, you must surround yourself with creative people or with people from different backgrounds who hold different opinions.
You can also sit in public and observe the movement of people.
Last Words Of Advice!
It is one thing to be creative and another to maintain the creative process. You must learn yourself well and stay confident in your ability to create.
To maintain your creativity, first share your vision and ideas across your organization. Then, encourage others to come to you with ideas.
Is your organization doing enough to increase the creativity within the company?
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith serves as a roadmap to help you get where you want to go in life and at work.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith helps people:
Get into leadership position.
Put your vision into action.
Identify and change bad habits.
Succeed and reach higher heights of success.
Understand that the same skills that got you previous success and won’t get you to the next level.
Why is it so hard to stop a bad habit?
It is not easy for successful people to change their behavior because their past successes have acted as positive reinforcement and have solidified some of your behaviors.
Furthermore, stopping a bad behavior isn’t as rewarded as you would think but it detrimental to success.
Indeed, we don’t get as much credit for stopping something as much as starting something.
Successful people either assume that:
They are right and everybody else is wrong.
People who want them to change are confused.
What you think about them doesn’t matter to them.
Their behavior is not hindering their success.
Changing their behavior is not worth it.
To get people to change their behavior, it is important to have them identify what they value most and somewhat “threaten” that value.
21 Habits That Got You Here But Won’t Get You There
Some people are successful in spite of their behavior.
Understand that you can be successful in spite of your flaws.
Recognize our bad behavior.
Examine your behaviors to see what feelings are attached to them.
Avoid attacking value to the bad behavior that you associate with success.
Find a reason to change, an example that will act as a positive reinforcement.
Marshall Goldsmith exhibits 21 behaviors that alienate people, that you need to stop and that are simple to correct.
Habit #1. Winning too much
In the case, the urge to win is strong and is triggered in any situation, whether it matters or not.
However, the need to win can limit your success because it can destroy relationships.
Habit #2. Adding too much value
Another habit of smart people is always feeling the need to add value to every discussion, to run the show.
They need to let everybody know that they already know or that they know a better way.
The need to add value is simple a variation of the need to win.
Habit #3. Passing judgment
Passing judgement pushes people away because people do not like to be rated or critiqued.
Imposing your standards on people, approving or disapproving of people’s decision will make you seem unwelcoming and disagreeable.
Habit #4. Making destructive comments
Some people make destructive comments without thinking: they put people down, they hurt them or assert themselves as their superiors.
This habit of making hurtful and sarcastic remarks quickly erodes teamwork and cooperation.
It can stem from a habit of always being candid or from a need to sound sharp and witty.
Habit #5. Starting with “No”, “But” or “However”
Starting with “No”, “But” or “However” says that whatever the other person is saying is wrong and what you are saying is right.
The use of these negative qualifiers comes from a need to win and defend your position.
Habit #6. Telling the world how smart we are
The need to demonstrate how smart you are is a variation of the need to win, to gain people’s admiration and to communicate that you are two steps ahead of everyone else.
Habit #7. Speaking when angry
Anger can be a valuable management tool but it does not guarantee how people will react to your emotional outbursts.
However, anger is not a leadership tool. Using anger as a tool says that you are out of control and that you cannot lead. It stifles your ability to change and brands you as being emotionally volatile.
Habit #8. Negativity, or “Let me explain why that won’t work”
Everybody avoids negative people in the workplace.
Negative people find problems to every one of your solutions.
They are not helpful. They don’t add value but they want to demonstrate that their knowledge is superior to everybody else’s.
Habit #9. Withholding information
Withholding information is part of corporate culture and is used to gain power.
People who withhold information answer questions with a question, tend to be passive aggressive and promote mistrust.
It becomes important to improve your communications skills, to make sharing information a priority, and to inform people what you are up to.
Habit #10. Failing to give proper recognition
People who are unable to praise and reward, who don’t recognize the contribution of others technically withhold information.
People who are not recognized feel unsuccessful, unappreciated, forgotten and ignored.
Habit #11. Claiming credit that we don’t deserve
The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
People who claim credit withhold praise and congratulations, overlook the right people, deprive them from recognition.
People who claim credit are thieves and need to win. Whether you are the perpetrator or the victim of credit hogging:
Write down every time you congratulate yourself per day.
Review your list and discern who deserves credit.
Habit #12. Making excuses
Making excuses is not a viable leadership strategy and stops self-development.
Excuses are different from explanation. However, most people use excuses to explain their failures.
Habit #13. Clinging to the past
The past explains a lot of our behavior.
Most people live in the past because they can blame others for things that happened to them.
However, clinging to the past is unhealthy. The past cannot be changed, rewritten or excuses. It can only be accepted.
Habit #14. Playing favorites
Some leaders unknowingly play favorites.
They encourage people who serve them, praise them and admire them unconditionally.
Playing favorites is dangerous because you select the wrong people, you favor people who don’t necessarily like you, you fail to recognize the people who deserve it.
Habit #15. Refusing to express regret
People who refuse to express regret are unable to forgive, to apologize, to admit their wrongs, to cede power or control.
Refusing to apologize can create a toxic workplace. However, apologizing is powerful tool.
Habit #16. Not listening
Lack of attention is one of the most common bad habits in the workplace.
Not listening to someone demonstrates that you are impatient, don’t care about what they are saying, that they are wasting your time, that you don’t understand what they are saying.
Habit #17. Failing to express gratitude
Expressing gratitude is a powerful and essential tool to success.
Habit #18. Punishing the messenger
Punishing the messenger tend to attack those who blow the whistle and who bring bad news to us.
Habit #19. Passing the buck
The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
Passing the buck means finding a scapegoat, blaming others for our mistakes.
Leaders who pass the buck are difficult to follow because they don’t take responsibility for their actions.
Habit #20. An excessive need to be “me”
People who feel the need to be themselves hold on to behaviors they think intrinsically define them.
They refuse to change because they see it as being inauthentic.
The truth is they have a limited definition of themselves.
Habit #21. Goal obsession
Goal obsession can drive to success but it can also drive to failure.
Goal obsession or obsessing over the wrong goals become negative when you force yourself to achieve your goals in spite of the bigger picture, of your manners and your character.
How To Overcome These 21 Habits?
To dispel these habits, it is important to learn what type of information is appropriate to share, when and how to convey information, who to ask for information, how to discern useful information.
To overcome these 21 habits:
Ask for feedback. Change does not happen with negative feedback but with honest and helpful feedback.
Get feedback on your own from your surroundings and from how people react to you.
Learn to apologize for your bad behavior to the people who matter most to you. By apologizing, you mend broken relationships and overcome negative emotions.
Demonstrate changed behavior or your intention to change your behavior.
Listen more than you speak and listen with respect.
Follow up on your progress by asking your coworkers.
Discuss the behavior you are changing to one person and ask them for suggestions in the future.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith is a very insightful book. It serves as a workplace guide of the things not to do.
It is written for leaders and for people who want to move up in life and at work.
According to Marshall Goldsmith, everybody has a at least six to eight habits that need to be stopped. From the look of it, we are all guilty of these habits.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith is definitely a good place to start when you are looking to improve, when you are looking to understand the people and the different dynamics in the workplace.
Let me know below what you think about this book!
We have to stop couching all our behavior in terms of positive or negative. Not all behavior is good or bad. Some of it is simply neutral. Neither good nor bad.
the higher you go, the more your problems are behavioral.
As we advance in our careers, behavioral changes are often the only significant changes we can make.
If we can stop excusing ourselves, we can get better at almost anything we choose.
Gratitude is a skill that we can never display too often. And yet for some reason, we are cheap and chary with gratitude—as if it were rare Bordeaux wine that we can serve only on special occasions. Gratitude is not a limited resource, nor is it costly. It is as abundant as air. We breathe it in but forget to exhale.
There are no good or bad emotions per se. However, some emotional displays are more socially acceptable than others, depending on each individual’s socio-economic background, appearances and attached stereotypes.
For example, being spiteful and openly provoking someone is socially accepted. However, a person reacting to that provocation with anger is not.
Furthermore, in the workplace, you must leave your emotions at the door, and display a confident and positive attitude. Demonstrating that you are having a bad week will probably get you removed from the project.
When the pressure is on, organizations look to leaders to take action and to safely bring the organization out of hot waters. Leaders who are unable to step up to the plate will potentially be removed from their position.
As a leader, you must discipline your emotions, always have a clear head, continuously deal with challenges, give and receive feedback, keep your employees motivated and on task, even when you are tired or fed up.
Wondering how to discipline your emotions and improve your leadership skills?
What being emotionally disciplined means…
Emotional discipline is about being able to effectively manage your feelings. Being emotionally disciplined means that you are also able to:
Stay calm in challenging situations and overpower your own emotions. You can then deal with a tough situation, without making it worse.
Respond and not react to triggering events.
Gain more power over yourself and control yourself instead of being controlled.
Separate your inner voice from the outside noise.
Remain in the present, avoid dwelling on the past and obsessing about the future.
Decide and act how you want to really feel.
Acquire the freedom to express yourself freely and to engage in activities that make you happy.
Avoid getting tangled up in someone else’s web and positively interact with people. Let’s be honest, emotional discipline is useful to gracefully put people back in their place.
See people for who they really are and for how they really make you feel.
Gain new perspectives on your problems and navigate different situations.
Effectively address important and difficult issues.
Take advantage of a given situation and delay instant gratification for long-term rewards.
Possess several strategies to overcome most challenges.
Why discipline your emotions?
People will try your patience and your peace of mind on a daily basis in life and in the workplace.
The way you feel has an impact on your behavior, on the way you lead and the way you think. Your emotions also affect your health, your self-talk and your work performance.
Needless to say, becoming emotionally disciplined requires a lot of self-reflection, quiet moments with yourself and understanding that no one can harm you without your consent.
It requires growth, that you build up your resistance and become thick-skinned. It is not an easy nor an overnight process.
How leaders strengthen their emotional discipline?
Most people who possess emotional discipline are successfully placed in leadership positions because they are able to work through their own discomfort. To strengthen your emotional discipline, it is imperative to acquire the following habits.
#1. Leaders have a strong hold on their identity
They know their core values, their strengths and weaknesses. They also know where to apply them and they learn about themselves through their emotions.
In addition, they do not let stereotypes and assumptions define them.
#2. Leaders understand their triggers
This step is time-consuming because people might not want to immediately confront their emotions and they might resist the drive down memory lane.
When the pressure is on, leaders are able to quickly identify the origin of your emotions. They know their triggers, understand why that situation or this person is triggering them.
Furthermore, they don’t let anyone push their buttons or control them, they don’t react but they respond to negative behavior.
They wake up in the morning ready to achieve their goals for the day and to make the right decisions for themselves.
#4. Leaders walk with integrity
They do what is right because doing the wrong thing requires too much emotional effort.
Moreover, they take accountability for their actions and don’t shift blame.
#5. Leaders stay in the moment
Most of the time, being in the moment will give you the opportunity to feel your emotional response and give you the appropriate response to any situation.
#6. Leaders identify the emotions that overcome them
If you cannot find the right words to describe your emotion, postpone your self-reflection until later, when you’re in a quiet place.
#7. If they can, leaders write down their thoughts on paper
This way, you will notice your thought patterns, illogical and irrational thoughts, the assumptions that you make, the systems of beliefs, the solutions to your situation, what you need to feel better and to clarify your situation.
#8. Leaders practice self-care
They work out regularly, eat well and do things that you enjoy.
In addition, they take the time to meditate, to quiet the noise in their minds, to improve their self-talk and to employ the power of positive affirmations.
#9. Leaders see people for who they truly are
Leaders are not only self-aware but they are aware of other people’s intention.
#10. Leaders have a strong support system
They have an emotional support system in place that helps them reason, that they go to regularly and that act as a sounding board.
They also surround themselves with people who are emotionally healthy.
In How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job, Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith have noticed that in the workplace, high achievers — men and women — often demonstrate problematic habits that undermine their career, that have propelled them in the past and that won’t allow them to move further up.
Women, contrary to men, display different self-limiting behavior, face particular challenges, even if they want to advance their career and even if they have assets to contribute to the workplace.
Most often, women feel stuck in their jobs. Feeling stuck comes from feeling like you are unable to move forward, like some force is willfully holding you back, like you are not allowed to use your strengths or you are underappreciated. The feeling of being stuck will shape their behavior and will subsequently determine how others will respond to them.
There are also various external barriers that hold women back from success: most workplace structure has been designed by men for men. Stereotypes influence women ability to move up the ladder: they are their perceived as too aggressive, too passive, too talkative, too quite, too emotional, too mean, they smile too much or frown too much… Needless to say, women are not at all responsible for these barriers or being held back.
People tend to cling to habits that have made them successful but that are no longer serving them. These habits have been reinforced by external factors and by people who want to celebrate your success, by the fact that most people are blind to their own weaknesses.
Furthermore, organizations are quick to claim that they thrive on change, but make it hard for their employees to change within them because:
Organizations assign roles and tasks on past behaviors and keeping them there. This makes it difficult for employees to practice new behaviors.
Organizations celebrate and reward a successful action and ignore a warning or a successful lack of action. Someone would be celebrated for signing a good deal and avoid a bad one. The latter are viewed as naysayers.
Habits are not intrinsic to your character but are your comfort zone, your default setting created by your surroundings. Changing is hard, time-consuming and may require external help.
People will then hold one to old behaviors rather than changing them. That resistance is built naturally by rationalizing a behavior, by your brain after repeated behavior and familiar situations.
Because stopping a habit is more effective than starting one, Helgesen & Goldsmith have put together 12 habits to stop practicing in order to be successful as a woman. To open new doors, be purposeful and intentional about choices and change behavior, it is first detrimental for women to identify how them define success.
According to Helgesen and Goldsmith, while caring about rewards and status, most women value satisfaction, quality of life and the impact of their contribution over a high salary or a high position. Women don’t define success as winning or as keeping score, don’t enjoy competition and rather collaboration. Hence, women find it easier to transition to leadership positions because they can place emphasis on others instead of themselves.
Your old habits have previously served but are currently hindering you. It’s not too late to change and acquire better habits. To get rid of them:
Identify the habits you need to work on.
Recognize your behavior as a habit, try different behaviors and observe the responses.
Repeat behaviors until your brain is comfortable with the new behavior.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Recognize your strengths as well, avoid judging people.
Address habits one at a time.
HABIT #1: Reluctance to claim your achievements
Women work harder than men but avoid taking credit for their successes, avoid using the pronoun “I” because they believe that:
Their work will automatically speak for itself.
This behavior is obnoxious and disruptive.
The group to which they belong to expect them to be modest, unobtrusive and coy.
To get over the reluctance to claim your achievements:
Learn how to promote yourself.
Believe that you are detrimental to your own success.
Enlist the help of people to speak on your behalf and don’t contradict what people have to positively say about you.
HABIT #2:Expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions
When others don’t notice the work that they do, women start to feel unacknowledged or underappreciated for the hard work that they put in. They start to feel like the don’t belong and will look for another place to work.
To get over expecting others to spontaneously notice and reward your contributions:
Set goals for your career and share your vision at every opportunity.
Prepare an elevator speech and be ready to deliver it at any moment. This will demonstrate your ambition, clarify your future, get you noticed, show that you are confident and serious, will be an opportunity to highlight your skills, will help you identify the self-serving opportunities. Your elevator speech should be clear, concise, identical to a personal vision or mission statement.
HABIT #3: Overvaluing expertise
Becoming an expert in a field gets women noticed, is a defense mechanisms, a way of asserting their value.
However, mastering a role will only keep you in the same role. Becoming an expert is time-consuming, will make you knowledgeable but will not make you a leader.
To get over the habit of overvaluing expertise:
Build relationships, increase influence and do the job well enough.
Don’t be sloppy.
HABIT #4:Just building rather than building and leveraging relationships
To women, building relationships is emotionally and personally rewarding. Indeed, women have good relationships skills but don’t leverage them to get ahead in the workplace because they don’t want:
Their connections to feel used.
Their relationships to be based on self-interests.
To play the political game.
To get over the habit of just building rather than building and leveraging relationships:
Ask people to connect you to higher-ups.
Use a win-win or quid pro quo system.
Become more intentional about your relationships.
Remember that people can benefit from you and vice versa.
HABIT #5:Failing to enlist allies from day one
From the first day on the job, most women tend to try to keep their heads down, to understand every aspect of their job, to avoid asking questions, to value expertise, to be undergoing the impostor syndrome. As seem before, expertise is just your way of making yourself credible.
Instead find out with who you should connect with to get better visibility, more influence.
To get over failing to enlist allies from day one:
Reach out to others first and engage as many people as possible.
Find mentors and sponsors.
Keep in mind that allies are not friends.
Talk positively about your allies.
Identify the people who can propel you to the next level or that you would enjoy working with.
HABIT #6: Putting your job before your career
Most women trying to do their jobs perfectly because they are loyal, get stuck in the same job for years.
To get over putting your job before your career:
Let people know that you are ready for a challenge.
Analyze how your current position can serve your long-term interest.
Admit self-interest and identify what you value and how you can maximize your strengths.
Appreciate you current position.
HABIT #7: The perfection trap
Women tend to be perfect due to social expectations. Doing your job perfectly doesn’t guarantee success. Instead, it creates stress, keep you distracted and annoyed and sets you up for disappointment, it makes you hard on yourself, destroyed by failure, paralyzed by mistakes, sets too high standards for your team.
Women find themselves eager to please, to be nice, to make everybody happy, are afraid of disappointing and of being a burden. This behavior is time-consuming, kills careers, deters from taking a stance and from following a higher purpose.
To get over the disease to please:
Identify your priorities.
Learn to delegate.
Select your commitments with care.
Stand your ground.
Women tend to make themselves smaller, which is translated in the body language and the words they use. This behavior sends the message that they are diminished, subservient, non deserving, uncertain and underachieving.
To get over the habit of minimizing yourself:
Talk about your accomplishments, talk about individual and collective wins if that makes you feel fairer.
Choose your voice and words carefully.
Stay in the moment.
Avoid multitasking and spreading yourself too thin.
HABIT #10: Too much
In the workplace, women have to temper and constantly monitor their emotional response to situations. Being perceived as too intense, too emotional, too strong, too vulnerable, too much can be an obstacle to promotion.
Monitoring your behavior, your emotions is draining and makes you come out as inauthentic. To get over the display of too much emotions:
Women are more likely to ruminate, to cling on to the past. They turn their hurt inwards, relive their failure and blame themselves.
Ruminating is counterproductive, are depressing, won’t help you succeed or solve future problems.
To get over the habit of ruminating:
women need to find ways to distract themselves and interrupt their thought.
learn from the facts and move on.
HABIT #12:Letting your radar distract you
Women notice a lot of details and process them differently than men. They are aware of everybody’s reaction, are distracted by details and are unable to stay ion the moment.
To get over the habit of getting distracted by their radar, discipline your thoughts and refrain from negativity.
How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Sally Helgesen & Marshall Goldsmith is relatable, proactive and insightful. It is written for women with the best intention and with the desire to help women stop self-sacrificing and stop self-sabotaging. It is not necessarily targeted towards women of color even though it mentions the challenges that women of color face in the workplace.
Above all, it teaches us introspection and demonstrates how to control what we can, how to change bad habits, how to improve our quality of life and to reach our full potential.
In addition, How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job by Helgesen & Goldsmith pushes us to seek the positive in every interaction, in every feedback and to not take remarks personally even if they are based on stereotypes. It’s all about changing a behavior that stands in your way.
For the most part, I agree that women share habits that keep us from advancing in the workplace. There are several points that were accurate and that resonated with me: I have a nagging tendency to ruminate on negative experiences (Habit #11). Because I pay too much attention to detail (Habit #12), the rumination process is that much amplified.
However, I felt like Helgesen and Goldsmith insinuated that women, aware of the stereotypes placed on them in the workplace, have to take on the responsibility of changing themselves to fit in, have to listen to and apply the feedback they received from the people who perpetuate the stereotypes, that they have to become enablers and mirror men’s behavior.
It doesn’t seem like we are supposed to change to acquire greater values or to reach a higher purpose. But we’re changing to fit someone else’s standards or expectations of us: we move from one expectation to another.
Instead of viewing money and position as the sole or even chief markers of success, women also tend to place a high value on the quality of their lives at work and the impact of their contributions.
the trick to maximizing your talents and opportunities is not becoming a less thoughtful and giving person, but rather being purposeful and intentional about your choices while also addressing the behaviors that keep you stuck.
In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey distinguishes two major social paradigms that have embodied the search for success and the “fundamental principles of human effectiveness” since 1776: the Character Ethic and the Personality Ethic.
According to Stephen R. Covey, in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, in the United States, from 1776 to WWI, leadership culture was based around building character. It was said that Character Ethic was the foundation of long-term success: leaders were thought values and habits to develop their basic character.
However, from World War I to Today, leadership and success teachings have been promoting Personality Ethic. Personality Ethic provides quick fixes to help an individual deceive their way to the top, to success and to leadership positions. Personality Ethic teachings work short-term, don’t fix issues but just disguise them.
Moreover, Covey claims that we possess several paradigms or maps of how we see things and a map of how things should be which comes from our values. These maps are the basis of our attitudes and behaviors. Paradigms, which are our frame of reference or assumptions, are affected by our conditioning through life, by the influences of our friends and family, of our institutions, our culture, of our historical backgrounds, systems of beliefs, life experiences.
As a result, our attitudes and behaviours are congruent of our paradigms. So therefore, attempting to change only our attitudes and behaviors, as instilled by the Personality Ethic movement, is completely useless and is short-termed. In order to implement change in our character or a “paradigm shift“, it is then necessary to directly assess our paradigms, to examine them, to test them against reality, to listen to others and to be open to their perception.
The term “paradigm shift” is coined from the Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. It means breaking with tradition, old beliefs, old assumptions, old paradigms. Paradigms shift can be toward a positive or negative direction, “instantaneous or developmental” and “create a powerful change”.
Throughout The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests that we shift our paradigms back to the Character Ethic, that we start shifting our thinking from the inside and introduces seven habits to enhance personal and interpersonal effectiveness.
The Character Ethic is a general and fundamental truth, universally applicable, unchangeable and unarguable laws and “principles that govern human effectiveness”, that are “bigger than people or circumstances”, that innately exist in all human beings, are common to all civilization and that triumph time and time again.
Acquiring Character Ethic is the basis of high level of trust in companies, is a long process that should be natural ad cannot be a shortcut. First step to the process is admitting your ignorance or lack of knowledge.
What is a habit?
Character is the composite of embedded habit, and it is necessary to solve the problems we face from the inside out because private victories exceed public victories.
A habit is the intersection of knowledge, skills and desire and is a natural force like gravity. Breaking a habit can be a painful process, demands effort and technique, should be motivated by a higher purpose, a willingness to sacrifice our current desire for a future and unseen desire.
What are the seven habits?
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People moves us on the maturity continuum. It brings us from a state of dependence where we need others to accomplish something for us, to a state of independence where we are self-reliant, self-motivated, derive our self-worth from within and are freed from external dependence, to a state of interdependence where we are self-reliant and competent in our own right but able to work with others, and believe that together we accomplish more.
In addition, the seven habits are habits of effectiveness, a balance between the production of a desired result and the investment in the ability to produce or in the physical, financial and human, asset that produces. Covey believes that to achieve effectiveness , we must strike the P/PC balance, where P stands for Production and PC for Production Capability.
The 3 following habits are the habits of Private Victory. These habits are used to become more confident, to know yourself deeper and to acknowledge your contribution capacity, to define yourself from within instead of using society’s point of view to define yourself. Stephen R. Covey encourages us to develop the habits of being proactive, keeping our future goals in mind and of creating our vision.
HABIT #1: Be proactive
In management literature, being proactive means taking initiative. Here, it also means being responsible for our lives and our decisions, being able to choose a response when faced with a stimulus.
Proactive people, unlike reactive people:
Are unaffected by their physical environment and are value driven. Their performance and attitudes remain constant whether it rains or shines.
Are unaffected by their social environment. they don’t build their emotional lives around people weaknesses and don’t allow those weaknesses to control their lives and decisions. Instead they surrender their emotions to their values and don’t allow reactive language to affect them.
Take the initiative. Act before being acted upon, provide solution to a problem and enable growth and opportunity.
Look to focus their time and energy on areas that they can control or influence. Indeed, they don’t focus on others weaknesses and problems and uncontrollable events.
Constantly work on their habits, change from the inside-out.
Take full responsibility for their short-comings.
Are free to choose their actions but understand that they cannot control the consequences of these actions.
Govern their behaviors with principles, acknowledge their mistakes, learn from them and correct them immediately.
Have integrity: they make and keep their commitments and promises.
Monitor their language and the language of the people around them.
Identify past and potential experiences to which they have behaved reactively and play out scenarios towards a solution.
HABIT #2: Begin with the end in mind
For Stephen R. Covey, beginning with the end in mind means using the “end of your life as your frame of reference or criterion by which everything else is examined”, starting with “a clear understanding of your destination” to “know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right destination”. To begin with the end in mind:
Use habit #1 to be proactive to change preexisting thought, shift your paradigm, examine your deepest values.
Be aware and conscious of your limitless potential, of your uniqueness.
Be imaginative enough to visualize the unseen.
Be responsible and response-able.
Do not violate the criteria that you have set for yourself.
Lead yourself daily in order to execute what really matters.
Develop a “personal mission statement or philosophy or creed” describing your aspiring character, achievements, contributions, values and principles. The personal mission statement becomes your guide and standard, provides you with a sense of mission, helps define your short-termed and long-termed goals and allows change because your core has now become changeless. Basically, developing a personal mission statement makes you much more effective because your energy, time and strengths are dedicated to areas that matter to you. Personal mission statements are not to be written overnight but might take several weeks because they require deep introspection. Also, they have to be written alone and reviewed many times before producing a final form.
HABIT #3: Put first things first
Stephen R. Covey believes that all things are created twice, by design or by default. The first creation starts in the mind where you envision the future and you plan for a destination. The second creation is physical: you bring what you visualize into reality and you take the best route towards your planned destination.
For Covey, leadership is the first creation and management is the second. Indeed, leadership creates the way, opens the pathway, provides direction and a destination. On the other hand, management clears the pathway by “writing policy and procedure manuals, holding muscle development programs, bringing in improved technologies and setting up working schedules and contributions programs”.
To be able to physically create and implement your vision into reality, you have to:
be proactive, understand that you are in control and are able to change your paradigm,
envision your potential and your destination and be self-ware,
have discipline to effectively carry out your plans, to stick to your values and to manage your time and life,
prioritize, schedule, select goals and leave space for unanticipated events,
delegate responsibility to skilled and trained individuals to focus their energy on high-leverage activities.
“Private Victory precedes Public Victory. Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others”.
On one hand, Habits #1, #2 and #3 are habits of Private Victory and are about developing your inner self, your character and your core values.
on the other hand, Habits #4, #5, #6 are habits of Public Victory, help in improving your relationship with others and working successfully with others.
Using the Personality Ethic, we might have a superficial and duplicitous relationship with others. Difficulty in relationships translates into tolerable chronic emotional pain that can turn into psychosomatic diseases. The symptoms of these emotional pains cannot be treated with quick fixes and techniques from the Personality Ethic.
Nevertheless, the Character Ethic provides a foundation for effective interdependence. The interdependence paradigm teaches us to:
seek to understand others and stimulate their deep interest or needs,
attend to kindness and courtesies,
keep commitments and promises to people in order to build trust,
clarify expectations from the start to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts,
manifest integrity by being honest, loyal to those who are not present, by treating everyone with the same set of principles,
help others “feel secure and safe and validated and affirmed in their essential worth, identity and integrity”,
The Win/Win paradigm. People with this paradigm seek mutual benefits in all human interactions, believe that life is a cooperation and not a competition, that a “person’s success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others”.
The Win/Lose paradigm. People with this paradigm don’t create synergy or cooperation, use the authoritarian or commanding leadership style and are accustomed to low trust and competitive environments.
The Lose/Win paradigm. People with this paradigm have no standard, no demands, no expectation, no vision, search for popularity and acceptance, are quick to please and appease, repress their emotions and feelings, and are easily intimidated by ego strengths of others.
The Lose/Lose paradigm. People with this paradigm live by the “philosophy of the highly dependent person without inner direction”, who is miserable and thinks everyone else should be too.
The Win paradigm. People with this mentality seek to win not necessarily wanting the other party to lose or win.
TheWin/Win or No Deal paradigm. If no synergistic solution is brought to the table that could satisfy both parties, then there is no deal. This paradigm provides emotional freedom.
Stephen R. Covey promotes the Win/Win paradigm and establishes that a Win/Win person possesses specific character traits: they have integrity, they have maturity which means that they are able to express their views with consideration to others, and they have the abundance mentality which means that they believe that there is enough for everyone.
Of course, not all decisions are Win/Win, but to know when to apply the Win/Win paradigm, you must understand the problem from another perspective, identify the other person’s issues and concerns, other acceptable results, and new possible outcomes for the situation.
HABIT #5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood
To be able to influence and to develop effective interpersonal communication skills, it is better to diagnose a situation before prescribing or proving advice.
To understand another person’s emotional and intellectual paradigm, Covey instructs us to listen empathetically, without making assumptions, and warns us to not listen to reply, manipulate, control or sympathize.
Empathic listening takes time initially but saves time afterwards, is risky because you become vulnerable to influence. That is why we must develop a changeless core of principles, erected in Habits #1, #2, #3.
Furthermore, seeking to be understood requires maturity, an ability to present your ideas clearly, specifically, visually and contextually and an ability to consider all the facts and perceptions. To take preventive measures, schedules one-on-one before issues arise.
HABIT #6: Synergize
Synergy means that “the whole is greater than the sums of its parts”, and is used to create cooperation in our social interaction. To create synergy on a daily basis:
value and respect social, mental and emotional differences to nurture people self-esteem and self-worth. Effective people acknowledge the limits if their perceptions, appreciate diverse interactions because they had to this person’s knowledge and understanding of reality, increase their awareness,
build on strengths and compensate weaknesses,
be open to new possibilities, alternatives and options,
be open to learning and to other’s influence.
HABIT #7: Sharpen the Saw
Finally, Habit #7 sums up the entire book. Habit #7 is about investing, preserving and enhancing your preexisting assets and means exercising sound motivation and organisation in four different dimensions:
The physical dimension is about caring for the health of our body by eating right and exercising.
The “spiritual dimension provides leadership in your life”, is your core and your commitment to your value system.
The mental dimension come from formal eduction, expansion of the mind.
The social/emotional dimension that is centered on developing interpersonal leadership, empathic communication and creative cooperation.
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a self-development book that has been on my shelf for longest while. It was written in 1989 but is still contemporaneous and can very much serve as guide to life, for personal and professional growth.
I avidly took notes in the perspective of actively applying every single tip and read it twice in order to capture the very essence of the book.
I recommend it to all leaders that are trying to integrate core values and to ingrain “good” habits into their character in order to experience success, to increase their effectiveness at work and to become the best leader that they can be.
I like that each paragraph are interconnected and that the author is personally implicated, is genuine with his approach and his drive to see us succeed and become more effective.
Covey calls out the books since World War I, promoting Personality Ethic, that provide quick fixes and band aids to deep-rooted problems. These books suggest techniques and principles to encourage leaders to put up a front and act like a leader would and not actually be a leader. Covey is also being very transparent about the dysfunction of the society these days, willing to manipulate and deceive their way to the top.
Finally, he reminds us that it is not all that shines that is glitter: the deception does not last very long and the leadership tower crashes because it has no basis and because the leadership house was built on sand.
If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other — while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity — then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do — even using so-called good human relations techniques — will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.
You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.
Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.