Friday, February 26, 2010

The 2 Coveys!

How lucky am I!! Last month I was privileged to listen to not one Covey but 2 Coveys! I told Steve Senior that my daughter gets excited to meet the movie stars and I get excited to meet him. What a marvellous man who in the flesh lives all of what he preaches. He gives you his full attention - and more and has a wonderful way of connecting with people.
Steve is the author of the Number 1 business book of the 20th Century as noted by TIME magazine. His presentation at the Training 2010 conference in San Diego was remarkable and I will sum up some of his key messages below. His son Stephen R Covey stepped on the stage and followed on with a very strong presentation around the key theme of trust.
Steve Covey Senior:
If we have to stand up in a room of our colleagues, close our eyes and point north, where would all these fingers be pointing? Would they all be in the same direction? And this is a metaphor for what can happen in an organisation where people are not all aligned. What happens as well when people lose their moral compass? They also move and change and have no moral centre.
How do you then establish trust if people are not trustworthy at their core?
This is why Covey maintains that following the 7 habits of highly effective people is so vitally important. How else do we know where true North is and how do we live with integrity?
Covey gave the example of how he worked with trying to resolve major conflicts in the world such as in the Middle East. Once the 2 opposing parties can abandon their agendas and come up with new goals that they are accountable to achieve, the hostility diminishes and respectful communication begins to take its place.
Covey quoted Durkheim who said:
"When mores are sufficient, laws are unnecessary. When mores are insufficient, laws are impossible to enforce."
He emphasised just how important it is to inspire others by adopting the 8th habit. He reminded the audience that Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, always said, "Weaknesses are made irrelevant through the strengths of others."
Covey reminded us that we manage things but we lead people - people have the ability to choose and we cannot control them through any type of carrot and stick approach. If we really want to motivate people, we need to unleash their ability to achieve their goals through what they love doing.
We only need to look at some of the great leaders of our times, Gandhi and Mandela as examples - they have made a choice to lead through their moral authority and not because of titles or status.
A manager's role is to provide the map to team members - it is no good giving them a map of Sydney and then expecting them to get out of the airport without giving the navigational skills needed. In order to be able to execute you need a foundation of trust as a starting point and then you also need discipline. To be productive takes discipline.
Stephen R Covey followed on by talking from his book, The Speed of Trust'. He said that creating trust could be your greatest strength. He asked us to think about a person we really trust. Then answer these questions - what is it like to work with them? How fast can you get things done? What results can you achieve?
Now think of someone you don't trust and answer the same questions.
In a high trust relationship, everything is open and there is clear communication. It is authentic and risk-free and also energising and fun.
So trust has become an economic driver and not just a social virtue and is in fact a key leadership ability. As an example, Warren Buffet does deals on handshakes. He knows that everything will be as it should be because he is so trust and trustworthy. Even Obama in his 2010 State of the Union address in the USA warned that Americans face a "deficit of trust".
Well can trust be learned? Yes says Covey.
So much hinges on our credibility and trust can be restored through credibility and changed behaviour.

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