As I read over the 56th Fighter Wing’s fiscal 2017 strategic plan, I came to understand there are few things more important to success than a clear vision of what needs to be accomplished. The overview of “The 8th Habit from Effectiveness to Greatness,” by Stephen Covey, provided me the fundamentals necessary for aligning that vision with the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness philosophy of helping others to do the same.
Covey takes us from his groundbreaking lessons in personal change in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” to greatness in finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs in “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.” In this book he talks about the 21st century as the age of the knowledge worker (a person whose job involves handling or using information) and how organizations from top down and bottom up need to change their 20th century paradigm of the Industrial Age, and tap into what he calls the “whole person” in order to succeed and thrive.
The whole person
The whole person concept involves the body, mind, heart and spirit. In the Industrial Age companies and organizations were mainly interested in the worker’s body and mind. This was the age of making things, which required physical skills (the body) and mental skills (the mind) with very limited worker engagement or empowerment.
The worker template of the 20th century was typically to just do your job. The organizational mentality was, and still is to a large degree, “The boss knows best.” Workers were seen as an expense and often times viewed as replaceable. Things were done from the outside in rather than from the inside out. Only a part of the untapped talent of the individual was being utilized toward the success of the company. At this point in time neither the worker nor the leader understood that a new paradigm was evolving which engaged the other parts of the whole; that being the heart and spirit.
The heart represents a person’s vision, passion and desire to become an integral part of the organization and use their knowledge, ideas and energy. They wanted to be thought of for more than just physical skills and following directions. The importance of being empowered as opposed to disempowerment was paramount. The spirit represents a person’s conscience and the desire to make a difference through participation within the organization, to excel in their individual position and as an important part of the team. One who is listened to.
Together, the whole-body worker concept helps people to find their voice and in doing so inspires others to find theirs.
Finding your voice
Finding your voice is about seeing a need and serving others. It not only involves the whole person in body, mind, heart and spirit, but at a deeper level in what Covey calls our “Birth Gifts” which are Choice, Principles and the four Intelligences.
Choice as I see it is coming to realize our gifts and talents and how we choose to use those “Birth Gifts” as a positive influence in our lives as opposed to being slaves to the weaknesses of others and choosing to live a negative life of disempowerment. Choice is not living your life based upon a predetermined course or a disposition to a bad past. It is more about you determining response to the outside world. Covey and Edward de Bono, an authority on conceptual thinking, both talk about the space between stimulus and response which represents our freedom to choose and thus how we are perceived.
Principles based on core values never change. Qualities like honesty, truthfulness, integrity, accountability, service to others and faith are timeless. These attributes go to one’s character and lend credence to moral authority.
The 4 Intelligences are IQ, PQ, EQ and SQ. IQ is simply your intellectual capacity and what he calls vision: PQ is your physical capacity or discipline, which if taken care of through proper diet and exercise will serve you well. EQ or emotional intelligence is your capacity to communicate and interact effectively with other humans, your passion. Covey maintains that this is the most important of the 4 intelligences because in the age of the knowledge worker, communication, teamwork, empathy and the ability to understand the whole person are key. SQ is your spiritual passion or what he calls conscience. Simply put, in my judgement, SQ is doing what’s right.
These elements combined are the essence of voice. A voice that resonates deep within one’s self and then once fully understood from a personal and organizational level, the age of the knowledge worker will be an unstoppable force. A force that determines how humans serve each other which is what companies do — they serve a human need. Once we find our voice we can then inspire others to find theirs.
Inspire others to find their voice (The Leadership Challenge)
Leadership has evolved from the 18th century aristocracy model which said, “Father knows best,” to the 19th and 20th century bureaucracy model of, “Boss knows best,” to today’s infocracy or information age in which the “Information worker knows best.”
Covey talks about the effective leader having passion, discipline and voice, and then incorporating those qualities into inspiring others to find their voice through modeling (spirit), which is leading by example. Pathfinding (mind) which is simply setting the direction or destination of the organization with the trust of others. Aligning (body) which is setting goals and structures to stay on the path, and empowerment (heart) which is the understanding that leadership is not a position but a choice, and then to stand back and let the “whole person” flourish.
As we come together and endorse the 56th FW’s fiscal 2017 strategic plan, understand that leadership is more of a state of mind than anything else. You should always be leading others while also being led. At any point in your life you have the power to be a leader, to take initiative. If nothing else, you are the leader of your own life. Could you think of a more important role or position than being the leader of you and your destiny? It really does not get any more executive than that. What Covey really wants us to understand is you must always remember, it is you who has the power to control your life and circumstances, but you must remember that others have this same power over themselves as well. That is the whole idea of finding your voice and inspiring others to find theirs. It is here where you find greatness.