How to have effective people

Internationally renowned author and management expert Stephen R Covey argues
looks at how to set down the conditions for successful learning

What is your company’s true paradigm regarding staff training and
development? Do you see it as an expense or an investment?

Many organisations approach training as a one-time event. A need is
identified, and people are sent to a course, or a programme is brought
in-house. Often there is no follow up, no consistency, no real learning and
what you get is cotton candy – sweet but vanishing quickly. Organisations may
go through many cotton candy programmes without any real, measurable results –
at a loss of millions to the organisation.

How many companies consider whether their development programmes are really
geared to bringing lasting improvements?

The development of people is not ancillary to a business, but at the very
heart of its performance – without effective people, even technology-based
organisations will fail. The care, energy, and resources we put towards people
development should be seen as an investment, not an expense.

Real effectiveness is about far more than technical skill – it is about behaviour
and relationships. Ask yourself the following questions:

– Are there high-trust relationships at all levels of our organisation?

– Are our people motivated to use their knowledge and skills?

– Are they proactive?

– Do they see the company’s mission and goals as aligned with their own?

In the debate on leadership, there is still a tendency in some quarters to
see it as a top-down function, relying on a dynamic person in charge. Linking
leadership attributes only to a position is deeply flawed; results will always
depend on that person.

In fact, to remain innovative and competitive, companies must capitalise
fully on the talent, skill and knowledge of their workforce. True leadership is
an enabling art, which communicates people’s own worth and potential so clearly
that they are inspired to see it in themselves. It is essential to teach and
nurture self-leadership in the workforce – both through development
initiatives, and through directed autonomy where employee and manager agree on
the job to be done, with clear expectations and accountability for results.

Certain conditions are necessary for effective learning – for example the
desire to learn; commitment to act; freedom to experiment; and accountability.
And these are influenced by the style of management, which can be categorised
in four ways.

At the basic level, people are seen as economic or physical beings,
motivated to do what they are told using the ‘carrot and stick’ method of pay.

The next level is the human relations paradigm. We acknowledge that people
have hearts as well as stomachs. Leaders treat them fairly and kindly, but
still feel that they know best. The organisation is benevolent, but

The third stage sees people as a human resource, with not only bodies and
hearts, but with minds. We begin to release their talent and creativity.

And at the highest level, people are seen with wholeness – body, mind, heart
and spirit – and are valued for their intellectual and emotional intelligence.
At this level, we help people unleash their talents and empower them to
contribute – people are more inclined to learn when they feel they are
contributing to something worthwhile and can make a difference.

Effective leadership development works from the inside out. People must
themselves be inspired, learning to be proactive and identifying what matters –
setting goals, taking responsibility for their actions, learning the benefits
of synergy and communication, and developing other habits for personal, team
and organisational effectiveness.

At the organisational level, structures, systems and processes need to be
aligned to allow individuals to grow and manifest their leadership. The best
way to achieve this is by empowering and investing in people; providing
continual opportunities for effective learning and leadership development.

Stephen R Covey is vice chairman of Franklin Covey Company and
international best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
and Principle-Centred Leadership. On 24 April, he will be speaking in London at
FranklinCovey’s Leadership Symposium. For more information telephone 01295
274139 or visit

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