Covey Continued

At his presentation, “Insights Into Leadership: Great Leaders, Great Teams, Great Results,” Dr. Covey explained that with any historical breakthrough, a new paradigm was always introduced (& sometimes these paradigms are viewed as heresy).

Within the realms of leadership he mentioned that several key paradigm shifts have been:

  1. People as Things (managing people as things) vs. Seeing the Whole Person (we manage things and lead & empower people)
  2. Leadership as a Position (having formal authority) vs. Leadership as a Choice (having moral authority)
  3. Conducting the Quick Fix (an “outside-in” process) vs. Conducting the Sequential Process (an “inside-out” process)

We can see these shifts develop not only out of need, but out of the cultural changes around us. The transition from the “Industrial Age” to the “Knowledge Worker Age” show similar paradox shifts:


Overall Philosophy: Kind
Leadership: Position
Culture: Boss Centered
People: People-expensed
Motivation: External
Management: The Boss own responsibility for results, therefore manages & motivates


Overall Philosophy: Unleash Talent
Leadership: Choice
Culture: Complementary Team/Servant Leadership
People: People-voiced (primary leverage asset)
Motivation: Internal (inspiration)
Management: The Culture owns responsibility for results, therefore self manages.
Do you agree with these current shifts? What age does you organization work out of? How does situational leadership come into play here?


~ by Dave Smith on February 28, 2008.

3 Responses to “Covey Continued”

  1. I feel like I need a little more info.

    The bullet points are helpful, but it kinda feels like reading someone else’s notes from a lecture that was missed.

    But, from what I can gather, he might have been a little kind to the knowledge worker age. Perhaps we are seeing such trends in some of the dominant companies, (Google is a fascinating example — but I’m sure you know that).

  2. Did you get the sense that he constructing a bad guy vs. good guy straw man (the way we used to do it vs. the way it’s done now)?

    While new paradigms can be stifled and viewed as heresy…old paradigms that embody accumulated wisdom and knowledge can sometimes be shelved for the sake of being trendy and not necessarily effective.

    For example – there’s nothing inherently wrong with external motivation. I’ve been involved in the hiring, evaluating, and firing of employees for nearly a decade, and now matter how much you might try to empower someone after you hire them, they either have “it” (i.e. internal motivation) or they don’t. If they don’t, break out the stick. If they do, then break out the carrot.

    I think the paradigm shift that has occured in our culture today puts a premium on internally motivated people. Organizations are discovering that internally motivated people now hold the ultimate trump card – opportunity elsewhere. And, if a organization is going to reach it’s full potential it must allow the internally motivated worker to reach theirs.

    While I like the idea of internally motivated people, and prefer to work with them and hire them, the average worker is just that – average.

  3. Yea Ben, Google is probably a the posterchild of innovation these days. The last Fastcompany highlights them as the most innovative company right now.

    Good thoughts Anthony…that is where I think there is never a “pure” paradigm, denounced of all its past characteristics. As a culture evolves, it will (& should) have appropriate traces of the former model.

    I would think Covey would agree and say that within the current paradigm, those former characteristics occur, but in a more healthy manner.

    Part of it too, is an issue of situational leadership in my opinion. Sometimes a “top down” approach is necessary pending on the context and immediate need.

    Great example on the external motivation…I wonder if we now exist within a both/and culture…and where externals are harder to come by (i.e. salary increases less motivating) and where the days of threats don’t work?

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