Since the publication of my book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I have worked with many wonderful individuals who are seeking to improve the quality of their communications, relationships, products, services, organizations, and lives. But sadly, I see many people using a variety of ill-advised approaches. In effect, they try to apply short-cut, manipulative practices learned in academic and social systems to natural systems, the “farms” of their lives. The Problem: Alternate Centers Let me share with you some examples of the problem. Then I will suggest the principle-centered solution.
- Some executives justify heavy-handed means in the name of virtuous ends. They say that “business is business” and that “ethics” and “principles” sometimes have to take a back seat to profits. Many see no correlation between the quality of their personal lives at home and the quality of their communications at work. Because of the social and political environment inside their organizations and the fragmented markets outside, they think they can abuse relationships at will and still get results.
- The head coach of a professional football team once told me that some players don’t pay the price in the off-season. “They come to camp out of shape,” he said. “Somehow they think they can fool me, make the team, and play great in the games.”
- When I ask in my seminars, “How many of you would agree that the vast majority of the work force possess far more capability, creativity, talent, initiative, and resourcefulness than their present jobs allow or require them to use?” The affirmative response is about 99 percent. We all admit that our greatest resources are being wasted.
- Our heroes are often people who make a lot of money. And when some hero an actor, entertainer, athlete, or other professional suggests that we can get what we want by practicing hardball negotiation, closing win-lose deals, and playing by our own rules, we believe them, especially if social norms reinforce what they say.
- Some parents don’t pay the price with their kids, thinking they can fake it for the public image and then shout and slam the door. They are then shocked to see that their teenage kids experiment with drugs, alcohol, and sex to fill the void in their lives.
- When I invited one executive to involve all his people and take six months to write a corporate mission statement, he said, “You don’t understand, Stephen. We will whip this baby out this weekend.” I see people trying to do it all over a weekend trying to rebuild their marriage on a weekend, trying to change a company culture on a weekend, trying to pump out a major new business proposal. Some things just can’t be done over a weekend.
- Many executives take criticism personally because they are emotionally dependent on their employees’ acceptance of them. A state of collusion is established where executives and employees need each other’s weaknesses to validate their perceptions of each other and to justify their own lack of production.
- In management, everything goes to measurement. July belongs to the operators, but December belongs to the controllers. And the figures are manipulated at the end of the year to make them look good. The numbers are supposed to be precise and objective, but everyone knows they are based on subjective assumptions.
- Most people are turned off by “motivational” speakers who have nothing more to share than entertaining stories mingled with “motherhood and apple pie” platitudes; they want substance; they want process; they want more than aspirin and band-aids for acute pain. They want to solve their chronic problems and achieve long-term results.
- I once spoke to a group of executives at a training conference and discovered that they were bitter because the CEO had “forced” them to “come and sit for four days to listen to a bunch of abstract thoughts.” They were part of a paternalistic culture that saw training as an expense, not an investment. Their organization managed people as things.
- In school, we ask students to tell us what we told them; we test them on our lectures. They figure out the system, and then they party, procrastinate, and cram to get the grades. They think all of life operates on the same short-cut system.
Copyright © 1992, 2001 by Franklin Covey Co. All rights reserved. For personal use only.