7 Habits of Highly Effective Leaders M&S Media Inc.

ModulE 1: Overview

"Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world... If you want small changes in your life, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm." -Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Ethics that Define Success

In studying over 200 years' worth of literature on the concept of "success," Stephen Covey identified a very important change in the way that humans have defined success over time.

In earlier times, the foundation of success rested upon Character Ethic (things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the Golden Rule).m

But starting around the 1920s, the way people viewed success shifted to what Covey calls Personality Ethic (where success is a function of personality, public image, attitudes and behaviors).

Character Ethic: Primary traits

Covey promotes what he labels "The Character Ethic": aligning one’s values with so‐called "universal and timeless" principles. Absolute principles that exist in all human beings. Examples of such principles are: fairness, honesty, integrity, human dignity, quality, potential, and growth.

Character is the foundation to hold the structure (personality)

Covey adamantly refuses to confound principles and values; he sees principles as external natural laws, while values remain internal and subjective. Covey proclaims that values govern people’s behavior, but principles ultimately determine the consequences. Covey presents his teachings in a series of habits, manifesting as a progression from dependence via independence to interdependence.

Our character is a collection of our habits, and habits have a powerful role in our lives.

What are Habits?

DEFINITION: “Habits are things we do repeatedly. But most of the time we are hardly aware that we have them. They’re on autopilot.”
Habits are an internalized principal. A principal is a rule by which we guide our behavior. For a business it might by to value to customer. For an individual it might be orderliness, or productiveness.

A Habit is defined as the intersection of knowledge, skill, and desire

  • knowledge is the theoretical paradigm, the what to do and the why
  • skill is the how to do. We have the actual skills to do what we have the knowledge to do.
  • desire is the motivation, the want to do. We know why to do it. This is what makes us WANT to behave according to the principal.

Paradigms and Principles

Covey introduces the concept of paradigms for understanding the basic foundation for the creation of the habits.

A paradigm is :

  • A frame of reference, a model
  • A perception, assumption
  • The way we perceive, understand & accordingly interpret and judge things. A mental map.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People offers a new level of thinking, "Inside-Out" approach to personal and interpersonal effectiveness

"Inside-Out" means to start first with the most inside part of self –with your paradigms, your character, and your motives –continuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress –upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence –significant paradigm shift

The maturity continuum shows the relationships among the 7 Habits. It illustrates the stages of progression-how to become highly effective through moving from dependence to interdependence.

Stages of Progression

  1. Dependency: needing others to get what you want. This is the lowest level where we all begin at birth.
  2. Independence: Relying upon oneself to get what one wants and needs.
  3. Interdependency: Relying upon cooperation with others to get what I want and help others get what they want.

The first three habits are all about independence, and really are about ones personal character. Character is like the 90% of an iceberg that lays below the water, and the remaining 10% is personality. Habits 1, 2, and 3 are focused on self-mastery and moving from dependence to independence.

The second three habits are about interdependence. This is where the great victories in life are created. But without a foundation of personal character, the fruits of interdependence will be limited. Without self-mastery, one cannot work cooperatively with others. Covey notes that when he reflects on failures in his public life, he can usually trace them back to a private failure: hypocrisy, flakiness, irresponsibility, pride, etc. Habits 4, 5, and 6 are focused on developing teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills, and moving from independence to interdependence.

Habit 7 is focused on continuous growth and improvement, and embodies all the other habits.


To be effective, one must find the proper balance between actually producing and improving one's capability to produce. Covey illustrates this point with the fable of the goose and the golden egg. In the fable, a poor farmer's goose began laying a solid gold egg every day, and the farmer soon became rich. He also became greedy and figured that the goose must have many olden eggs within her. In order to obtain all of the eggs immediately, he killed the goose. Upon cutting it open he discovered that it was not full of golden eggs. The lesson is that if one attempts to maximize immediate production with no regard to the production capability, the capability will be lost. Effectiveness is a function of both production and the capacity to produce. The need for balance between production and production capability applies to physical, financial, and human assets.

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