‘The 100 Best Business Books of All Time:What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You’ part five

The 100 Best Business Books of All Time:
What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You

By Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten
Published by Portfolio
ISBN: 9781591844464
eBook ISBN: 9781101568149
Copyright © 2009, 2011 by Jack Covert & Todd Sattersten

Buy the Book

“Stars are made, not born.” 


Interestingly, Kelley’s research helped some groups succeed even more, the details of which he added in a chapter in the revised paperback edition. For instance, he discovered that women and minorities sometimes had difficulty with three of the strategies—initiative, networking, and teamwork—due to a history of discrimination in the workplace. While Kelley found that, generally, when all employees incorporated the star strategy into their day-to-day routine the company’s productivity rate increased an average of l00 percent, he also discovered that when women and minorities incorporated this strategy, productivity rates rose to over 400 percent.

Kelly clearly comes down on the nurture side of the nature-versus-nurture debate, concluding that performance can be nurtured even in large organizations. That speaks well enough for the effectiveness of the strategies in this book. How to Be a Star at Work is a practical book needed by both employees and employers to move to the next level. JC

How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed, Three Rivers Press, Paperback 1999, ISBN 9780812931693

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 154 for what the boss expects ** Page 127 for how to network better ** Page 316 for how people are programmed / EVEN MORE Sink or Swim by Milo Sindell and Thuy Sindell; You’re in Charge, Now What? by Thomas J. Neff and James M. Citrin; Know-How by Ram Charan

 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
STEPHEN R. COVEY
Reviewed by Todd

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is the outcome of Stephen Covey’s doctoral research into personal development literature. He studied two hundred years’ worth of self-help, popular psychology, and self-improvement writings, and identified two distinct philosophies of self-improvement. The first is what we identify with principles found in the works of early-American visionaries like Benjamin Franklin: principles such as integrity, industry, humility, and simplicity. Covey calls this the “Character Ethic,” and it was the dominant philosophy in American success literature until the early twentieth century. But Covey found the literature changed significantly after World War I, with a shift in emphasis from quality of character to improvement of personality, behavior, and attitude: the Personality Ethic. He takes aim at books, though not by name, like How to Win Friends and Influence People, Think and Grow Rich, and The Power of Positive Thinking, saying at best these books focus on secondary traits and at worst teach deception using a quick-fix mentality.

Covey divides the first six habits equally between habits of private victory and habits of public victory. The first private habit, “Be Proactive,” describes the freedom of choice one has between stimulus and response, between loss of a job and loss of self-worth. The initiative to learn a new skill is a simple incarnation of “Let’s look at the alternatives” versus “There’s nothing I can do.”

“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

Then, his second habit, “Begin with the End in Mind,” encourages the use of imagination to envision a set of creative choices about the future, the same energies employed in leadership. Covey advocates the development of personal mission statements to codify the varying roles and responsibilities of home, work, and community. “Put First Things First” takes that newly defined identity derived from the mission statements and matches up tasks and priorities to ensure alignment. When Covey asked readers which habit was the most difficult to adopt, this management process ranked number one, and he wrote another book, First Things First, to further explore the challenges.

“Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others,” Covey writes, and then moves forward with his three public habits: “Think Win/Win,” “Seek First to Understand…Then to Be Understood,” and “Synergize.” All are based on relationships. “Think Win/Win” is interpersonal leadership that creates mutual benefits for all parties. The classic negotiation book Getting to Yes uses the same philosophy, calling for individuals to use an abundance mentality in their interactions and look past the confining paradigm of the zero-sum game.

Being a good listener is a skill that is helpful in any relationship and sits at the core of “Seek First to Understand…Then to Be Understood.” When someone is speaking to us, our natural response is to listen autobiographically: agreeing or disagreeing, asking questions from our point of view, giving advice based on our own experiences, trying to figure out what is making someone feel the way they do based on how we would react. Covey spends much of the chapter on an extended example of a conversation between a disillusioned son and well-intentioned father. Covey replays the conversation a number of times showing how ineffective listening with our biases can be. When listening, the author writes, “rephrase the content and reflect the feeling.” Then he shows how the conversation completely changes. The second half of the discussion of this habit is about presenting ideas, and Covey returns to Aristotle’s rhetorical philosophy of ethos (character), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic).

“Synergize” encapsulates the entire Seven Habits process. When people join together, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and greater insights and previously unseen results are achieved. Covey suggests synergy is the third alternative to “my way or the wrong way.” All relationships grow when trust and cooperation grow.

The seventh habit, “Sharpen the Saw,” returns to the individual but “will renew the first six and will make you truly independent and capable of effective interdependence.” Covey believes we all have four dimensions that need continual renewal: the physical, the mental, the spiritual, and the social/emotional. He suggests spending an hour working on the first three every day. Find time for a cardiovascular workout. Read the classics. Keep a journal. Meditate or pray. It is only through recharging that we have the energies to succeed in the other aspects of our lives. TS

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, Free Press, Paperback 2004, ISBN 9780743269513

WHERE TO NEXT? ** Page 21 for the philosophy Covey takes to task ** Page 313 for more on empathic listening ** Page 38 for keeping the end in mind / EVEN MORE: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl; First Things First by Stephen R. Covey; Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

(This excerpt from The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten ends on page 20 of the paperback.)

 next week, another selection in the Oakville Public Library Business Online Book Club, a free service made possible with the help of the Sprott Foundation

If you enjoyed this selection, go to your local library or better still, Buy the Book

About Dawn Montgomery

Dawn Montgomery doesn't believe in boxes. In 2009 she gained access to the hidden job market by connecting with commuters on the GO train, receiving coverage from The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and Hamilton Spectator, plus interviews with Canada AM, CHML 900 and That Channel; however, this was not the first example of her "box?...what box?" thinking. On arrival as an immigrant to Canada the anticipated job and accommodation were no longer available, so she sourced another opportunity and, seven days later, with suitcase of heels and coordinating bags, drove 1804k to the logging and mining community of Ear Falls (pop. 1500) Ontario; it was January, the journey took five days, she stayed two years...the path less travelled is a familiar one!
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