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How to Apply the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to Your Workplace

December 11, 2017
By Josh Ownby

Stephen Covey’s bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, was first published over 25 years ago, but the lessons it contains are as relevant and applicable to today’s leaders as they were when he wrote the book. Covey’s stories, examples and lessons on good communication habits in the workplace continue to benefit organizational leaders in the 21st century.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

The first of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to Be Proactive. This Habit is about taking responsibility for your life and your choices. Some people blame circumstances, genetics or their upbringing for their behavior. But proactive leaders realize they have control over their responses, no matter what happens to them.

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind

Begin With the End in Mind asks you to make a conscious effort to envision what you want in life. Are you currently who you wanted to be and doing what you always wanted to be doing? This Habit challenges you to create a mental blueprint for who you want to be, to develop a personal mission statement.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

The third habit is an extension of Habit 2. In Habit 2, you create a mental blueprint for your life, and in Habit 3, you take action to realize that blueprint or mission. Put First Things First is about time management and life management - it asks you to decide which are the most important things to you, and then to prioritize them first with your daily choices.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

When we have a scarcity mindset, we perceive that there’s only so much to go around and that someone else's gain means less for us. But a win-win mindset seeks solutions and agreements that are mutually beneficial. Practicing win-win at work requires you to have maturity, integrity, and an “abundance” mentality. This Habit is illustrated powerfully in the training video "A Better Way", one of four programs in Stephen Covey’s Lessons in Leadership series.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

The fifth of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has to do with listening. We tend to “listen” while simultaneously formulating our response, or comparing our own experiences to what the other person is describing. Stephen Covey’s Empathic Listening: The Key to Communication video program covers this 5th Habit with three videos that provide solid instruction on listening empathically, and promote good communication habits in the workplace.

Habit 6: Synergize

The 6th habit is about being open to others’ influence, and achieving more effective and innovative results together than we could achieve alone. The 5-video series The Covey Leadership Library contains a program that beautifully illustrates this habit: "Mauritius: Celebrating Differences". This documentary program about the small, diverse island off the coast of Africa provides a memorable example about creating synergy and cohesiveness.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Sharpen the Saw means keeping yourself “sharp” by practicing self-renewal in four areas: physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual. It means dedicating time to each of these areas to refresh and recharge your body and soul in order to be able to practice the other six Habits.

For further training on applying Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in the workplace, explore these video programs: 

Everest: Creating Greatness - Covey draws profound leadership insights from the triumphant story of blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer and his dedicated team, including explaining the 4 imperatives of great leaders.

Stephen Covey: Integrating the 7 Habits - This program and its accompanying training modules teach organizational leaders how they can become more effective and influential by integrating The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in their work lives.