FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Stephen Covey
My first exposure to his landmark work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was life-changing. Common sense, organized, is how many have described the principles that Stephen packaged in such understandable terms. I knew, the first time I participated in the classroom experience, that I would need to become a facilitator and share those principles with whomever I could get to listen.
In 1997 I had the privilege of partnering with a number of Covey Leadership Center professionals, among them the dedicated, gracious, and talented Nancy Moore, now a colleague of mine who leads many initiatives within our Education Division. The company I worked for at the time hosted a number of beta-test classes for an early version of Covey Leadership Center’s coursework on trust. I was asked to teach these beta versions of the class. You can imagine my surprise when Nancy asked me to co-present with Dr. Covey at the sales kick-off of Building Trust at their corporate offices in Provo, Utah. Stephen’s spirit and character were bigger in person than I had imagined. He made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. He affirmed to his team of sales professionals the timeless principles of loyalty, transparency, and empathic understanding.
During Saturday’s funeral service, all 9 of his children shared stories and thoughts about their father that reinforced the public principles he preached. His oldest son, Stephen M. R. Covey, said it most plainly. “Dad was congruent, whole, complete.” He went on to emphasize that as great an author, speaker and consultant that he was in public, in private Stephen was even better. Dr. Covey’s best friend and brother, John Covey, gave us a glimpse into Stephen’s primary motivation in life – both personal and professional. Early in their professional lives Stephen once asked John, “What do you want to do with your career?” Understanding how Stephen thought, John turned the question back to his brother. Stephen’s response was three simple yet powerful words: “Release Human Potential.”
And throughout the service, memories of Stephen did just that. Every story, every thought, every snapshot of his great life and example evoked, on one hand, feelings of inadequacy, but more importantly it inspired feelings of resolve, commitment, and desire to be a better husband, father, and friend. I hereby commit to redefine the potential I am capable of releasing in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Yes, Stephen R. Covey will be missed. But the life, learning, love, and legacy he leaves behind will endure in the work we carry on at FranklinCovey and in the lives of those touched by his great work.
Thank you, Stephen!
Dr. Covey has done it again.
In their most recent FranklinCovey publication Great Work Great Career, Dr. Stephen R. Covey and Chief Learning Officer Jennifer Colosimo combine to offer relevant and timely thinking on “creating one’s ultimate job and making an extraordinary contribution,” as suggested by the book’s subtitle.
The authors encourage the reader to define what a “great career” means to him or her – to reflect on the level of loyalty, trust, and contribution one currently experiences in the workplace. They cite some profound examples of individuals who have achieved an obvious level of greatness (borrowing from Leading at the Speed of Trust workshop content) such as Dr. Fiona Wood, “Australia’s most trusted person.” Their brand of storytelling draws the reader in and makes the message more relatable and interesting.
They introduce a Venn diagram or model to suggest that one’s unique contribution is only discovered in the intersection of one’s talents, passion, conscience, and the need or opportunity that exists externally. They offer practical tools to help the reader “Know Your Strengths,” “Discover Your Cause,” plan a “Need-Opportunity Presentation,” and draft a “Contribution Statement.”
The closing section, “Build Your Own Village,” offers timely advice on connecting with others who mutually support one another – good ol’ fashioned networking. But here the authors bring networking into the 21st century by addressing the need for individuals to create professional blogs, participate in online social networking, and to “carve out” one’s space on the Internet.
In their closing thoughts, the authors suggest that by applying the tools and methods outlined, the reader doesn’t “look for a job; you look for a significant problem to solve or an exciting opportunity to leverage. You look for a profession you love and that people will pay you to do. You are not a ‘job description with legs,’ but a thinking, creative human being with unique and irreplaceable talents.”
I put this book down more energized and excited to “define my contribution” than ever before. I had written a contribution statement and walked hundreds of clients through the process. But now my contribution statement literally stares me in the face, taped up on my desk lamp, off to one side of my computer monitor – a constant reminder of my motivating professional causes.
If this book and its message don’t light a fire under you, there wasn’t a spark to begin with!
Have you noticed that during crises, many short-term-minded leaders give in to fear rather than focus? Even the CEOs who divulged their thoughts and feelings in response to both 2008 surveys from The Conference Board allowed the financial turmoil of the times to take their eye off of some very important, long-term success factors, such as leadership development and succession.
In “Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times,” communications maven Dr. Breck England, in partnership with Dr. Stephen R. Covey and FranklinCovey CEO Bob Whitman, outlines in the simplest of terms how organizations must respond today in order to stay at the top of their game. Likening business behavior to the annual Tour de France cycling contest, Mr. England recognizes that we are currently “in the mountain stages” of the race. He points out that, “the Tour is actually a team effort, and losing teams lack the disciplined execution of the winners.”
The book centers on four pressing hazards in the current marketplace and their solutions:
- Failure to execute
- Crisis of trust
- Loss of focus
- Pervasive fear
If you or your organization suffers from any one or more of these conditions, chances are the answer lies in the research and solutions offered in this timely work.
Each chapter is followed by some extremely provocative questions about the reader’s current state. They include:
- What generally makes the difference between the first and second place teams in any competitive situation?
- Why is complete transparency so important to building trust? What is the opposite of transparency?
- In uncertain times, everyone is challenged to do more with less. You say you’re doing more with less – but more of what?
- What are the costs to people and organizations of a “psychological recession?”
As a perennial reader of the Harvard Business Review, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the glowing endorsement offered by Clayton M. Christensen, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard, who said, “This book gave me more insight about how to get the right things done in an organization than any other management book I have ever read.”
My only critique is that the book is quite lean (making for an easy, refreshing read, of course) and leaves the reader wanting – no, needing more details in order to truly follow through on the authors’ advice. However, I understand several more books like this one from FranklinCovey Publishing are on the docket. Plus, there are e-tools and videos for each chapter of this book available online at no charge!
I’ll be embarking on yet another 100-mile bicycle ride next Saturday with a team of friends and family. With this book fresh in mind, you can be sure we’ll be clear about the goal, our need for trust and focus, and the debilitating effects of fear. I predict we’ll finish strong!