Ratih Soe's review on
"The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness" by Stephen R.Covey
Free Press, New York, 2004, pp.5, 97-98, 313, 315, 409
Have you ever met somebody who changed how you see yourself? Stephen R. Covey, an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant and author who has written several acclaimed books, including the international bestsellers, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit, says that his life profoundly changed when the president of the organization he had recently joined as a young man, entrusted him with a new assignment. He was asked to travel around the country and train local leaders, most of them much older than himself. Feeling young and inexperienced, Covey hesitated. Noticing his slow response, the president looked straight at him and said, “I have great confidence in you. You can do this. I will help you to prepare to teach. . .” This vote of confidence and promise of support is what gave Covey the courage to look within himself. As he says in his book, The 8th Habit, “His confidence, his ability to see more in me than I saw myself, his willingness to entrust me with responsibility that would stretch me to my potential unlocked something inside me. I accepted the assignment and gave my best.”
It was not easy. Covey says that it took a lot out of him physically, mentally, and emotionally—even spiritually. But the result was that he grew and as he did, the people he taught and touched also grew along with him. By the time Covey returned home, he had found his “voice”; he knew that what he wanted to do was to devote his life to unleashing human potential.
The confidence of one man who saw in Covey what he himself did not recognize was the trigger that unleashed his own potential. Later on, Covey realized that he was not the only one the president treated this way. Being a true leader, this wise man had seen what each person could do and by getting each one to realize his potential, he had tapped into the “voice” of each individual’s spirit. Each one he touched gave the courage and passion to do his best and this kind of performance contributed significantly to the success of the organization. While the challenges were always there, this wise leader gave inspiration and motivation. He provided them with the resources they needed, and in the process, empowered them to become “true leaders with accountability and stewardship.” It was this affirmation of others and the ability to unite them in vision toward their work that made others lead and serve in the same way. His great gift to those who worked under him was his ability to get each one to find his own “voice”.
In Stephen Covey’s words: “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” Most people often do not realize their own gifts and talents, perhaps because they have never been given the opportunities to develop them, or no one has ever seen their potential, or simply because each time they tried to do something, the only responses they got were put-downs. It takes a true leader to see what is unique in each person and to empower that person by getting him to use those gifts which are uniquely his. Once the individual is aware of his gifts and talents and puts them to use, he magnifies and uses them to empower others. A person who does not put his gifts and talents to use by ignoring or keeping them buried, loses them as well as the influence and opportunities he might have gained. The former has found his “voice” and has made the choice to become a leader.
In his book, The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen R. Covey mentions that “voice” lies at the nexus of talent, passion, need, and conscience. Engaging in work in which a person uses his talents, fuels his passion to fulfill a need in the world that his conscience forces him to meet. Therein lies his “voice”. Once that person inspires others to find their own “voice”, he moves into a position of leadership.
Who is called to leadership? Everyone has the capacity to become a leader. It is by using our gifts and talents, magnifying them so they are put to use not just for ourselves but for others that we find the call to choose our own response. It is in such circumstances that “life calls out to us” to serve those we come in contact with whose needs we become aware of and are capable of responding to. In doing this, we find our “voice” in life. And it is thus that we take on the role of leadership.