The author of the best selling book entitled, Seven Habits of Highly EffectivePeople, has once again struck gold with this new book entitled, Principle Centered Leadership, which preaches the importance principles in developing leadership skills and philosophy.  True leaders, according to Stephen Covey, should always remember that all actions of man are governed by the natural laws.  Success can therefore be achieved by aligning ones self and philosophies with these natural laws to bring true power, focus, energy, compassion, and integrity into ones life and by doing so allows other to feed of that principle centered leadership style.  These simple rules or principles are outlined in this book and can be attained through simple steps and focusing on the key principles of natural law such as trust, empowerment and alignment.

    Covey tries to convey his message by outlining three main levels that are needed in any leadership position.  He states that personal level is crucial because in order to become an effective leader one must learn how to develop the principle of trustworthiness.  Leaders cannot simply assume the mantle of leadership.  There must be character and competence that will make their subordinates respect them and follow their example.  The next level, interpersonal level, is also important because it is at this level that communication is important.  Leader and followers must be able to establish a working relationship that is not based on professional considerations but personal ones.  On this level, a good leader must always have the trust of his followers as well as trust his followers.  The final level, managerial level, is where all of the lessons come together since the personal relationship that is developed and the trust that is built is now the source for empowering people so that they can improve themselves and be more effective in the organization.  An understanding of these three (3) levels, according to Covey, is one of the most important keys in developing a principle-centered leadership.

    It must be remembered that the levels and principles that he discusses in this book are useful in dealing with organizations and social networks.  One of the main challenges of a leader today that has been brought about by the development of technology is that a leader is now expected to do more.  A leader is always expected to make the most of whatever resources are available.  In previous years, the constraints of communication problems made the expectation much lower than it is today.  With the relative ease in communication and the devices that are currently available, more output is expected from a leader.  The diverse environments in the work place today demand that a leader be able to cope with the different cultural background and communication skills of his team members.  This creates a more challenging working environment as leaders must try to adjust to the needs of working in a multi-cultural environment.  As such, the book of Covey attempts to provide a formula for dealing with all the challenges of leadership today by creating a new brand of leadership which he calls principle centered leadership.

    As a whole, the book provides a touchy-feely approach to the subject matter at hand and is effective to those who feel that the anecdotal approach is best for them.  The author provides examples of highly successful leaders and tries to break down the keys to their success and how these ultimately fit into the theory that their leadership styles are all centered on the principle application approach.  While this method has been proven to be successful in other books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it is certainly not for everyone.  Those who prefer a detailed step by step objective approach will certainly find it difficult to relate to the lessons which Stephen Covey attempts to teach.

    On a personal level, I feel that the most important lesson to be learned here is in developing communication within the organization.  Being an active listener is relevant in any organization because it is a sign of respect.  Listening is not simply nodding ones head and hearing what another person is saying but requires that a person actually pay careful attention to the words of another.  It requires that the listener to do more than just absorb whatever the speaker has to say but in certain instances requires that the listener react in such a way as to encourage the speaker to bring out more.  Listening is a way of reassuring the speaker that there is somebody for him to talk to who listens to him.  It is a way of communicating various feelings to another person without the use of words.
In order to become a good listener or to develop ones listening skills, it is not important that the person is genuinely interested in the other or what the other has to say since the purpose of communication and listening is indeed to come to a better understanding of another person.  The thing that is required in order to develop good listening skills is in being able to know when to simply just shut up and listen.  There is a certain timing that is needed in listening because listening may often be confused with boredom or disinterest by certain people.  One has to know when to simply just nod ones head or smile instead of opening ones mouth to say something.  This is the most important step at becoming a good listener.  This being the case, leaders should ensure that all instructions and communications with subordinates are not only concise but also that such instruction was properly understood by the subordinate. 

As such, I feel that part of developing into a principle centered leader revolves around being able to effectively communicate with leaders, subordinates and co-workers as well.  Just as there are different people and personalities and different corporate cultures, this book also provides a different approach to leadership.  It builds on the charismatic type of leadership and infuses a holistic and natural approach that gives the impression that just about anybody can be a good principle centered leader.  This book certainly may influence a lot of people and maybe that in itself makes it worth reading.


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