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Covey: the need for principle-centred leadership

Covey: the need for principle-centred leadership

Steve Covey is a writer and teacher who has had a tremendous effect on the psyche of UK and US managers. His book Principle-Centred Leadership (1992) was a New York Times bestseller for 220 weeks. His characteristics of principle-centred leaders (see box) and his seven habits (see below) are much quoted in management and leadership training courses. Again, his focus is on inner leadership, that is, on how to be rather than on what to do.

Covey’s organization runs workshops and programmes underpinned by a humanistic self-development approach. Unlike Bennis, he does not advocate revisiting your childhood to overcome difficulties, but encourages us to focus on visualizing a positive outcome and working with energy and enthusiasm towards it.

Covey’s seven habits (Covey, 1989) connect the leader’s outer habits with the inner capability, which he labels endowments:



Identify the top five inner leadership strengths that you believe the headmaster or headmistress of an underperforming school needs to have. Use the ideas of Bennis and Covey in the section above, and consider also Goleman’s emotional competencies. Justify your choices. How could these areas be developed if they were lacking?



Reflect on your own leadership using Covey’s seven habits. What are your strengths and weak areas?



Imagine you have just been asked to lead a cultural change programme in a 10,000 strong organization based throughout Europe and the United States. The organization is a microelectronics company which has grown through acquisition and now wants to strengthen its unique culture as one organization emphasizing commercial applications, customer service and innovation. Using the ideas presented in this chapter, describe the approach you would take to leading this initiative and explain why.

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