Book Review "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey

 | September 24,2010 03:47 pm IST

The second part of the chapter discusses how it is possible to enable people to evaluate themselves by empowering them with Win Win accountability.


Chapter 5 builds on the previous chapters and focuses on the power of 'Empathic Communication'.

The author cites everyday examples to illustrate how Habit 5 gives people the much-required psychological air they subconsciously wish for.


Covey terms 'empathic listening' both risky and time consuming, but makes it amply clear that the results, thus obtained, by far outweigh any aforementioned concerns. Chapter 5 further goes on to intertwine 'Seek first to understand and then to be understood' idea with the ancient Greek philosophy - ethos (personal credibility), pathos (empathic side) and logos (logic).


Chapter 6, both chronologically and ideologically, follows Chapter 5 and discusses how all pervasive 'Synergy' is the essence of principle-centered leadership and helps to catalyze, unify and unleash the immense powers within people.


Habit 6, thus, is to open one's mind to greater and newer possibilities and to renew and enrich one's life by communicating synergistically. The author then discusses how authenticity and genuineness together contribute synergy to communication. Extending this 'Whole is greater than sum of its parts' approach further, Covey conveys how valuing emotional, psychological and mental differences between people allows one to achieve synergy in real time situations.


In the last chapter, the author discusses the four dimensions (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) of 'Renewal' and elaborates on how these contribute to success of the past six habits. Chapter 7 then discusses how these mutually-interdependent dimensions work synergistically and contribute to the growth and development of an individual.


Strengths of the Book

A major strength of the book is its central theme itself, i.e., simple habits that are capable of positively transforming an individual's life. The author skillfully steers clear of an often-unintended and yet taken route, i.e., being verbose while discussing concepts.


The easy, consistent and logical flow of ideas will definitely appeal to people from all fields - students, academicians, businessmen et al. Covey needs to be complimented for artfully highlighting issues without being preachy. This again is a major achievement for a piece of text that is meant to motivate people to change their habits. Use of simple every-day instances to clarify concepts is another technique Covey employs to drive home a point.


Weaknesses of the Book

However, certain concepts require further clarification. For instance, in an example of a Win Win situation, the author suggests rewarding everyone or a very large number of people as the right approach. This, however, maybe unrealistic and, therefore, may not find application in real life.


Furthermore, most examples in the book are US-centric and consequently readers in other places may not find it easy to relate to them. Also, while the use of charts, diagrams and tables is meant to clarify concepts, their over-use at certain places puts the book in the danger of being labeled as a science text-book.


Comparison of the Book

Although it is unfair to pit reputed authors and their collections against each other and compare, Covey's 'The Seven Habits...' can be compared with Dale Carnegie's 'How To Win Friends & Influence People'.


Through his book, Covey aims to make people more effective through simple endeavors, while Carnegie's book is more direction-oriented, and aimed at transforming the way people view a person at his/her workplace. Personally speaking, Covey's approach of being personal is more likable.


'How To Win Friends...' reads like a manual for achieving success in a corporate set-up, while Covey's book focuses first on the self, i.e., changing oneself to bring about a change in others. Besides, while the author relies on day-to-day examples in the latter, the former usually quotes examples of sales-persons and suggests how they can become more impressive and effective while dealing with customers.


In some ways, 'How To Win Friends...' urges one to put up an appearance, to try and become someone one really isn't, and this is where Covey's strength lies. He motivates people to expect changes by changing themselves, so any doubts about sustainability of such an attitude can be easily ruled out.


Probably the difference in the perspectives of the two authors stems from the kind of readers they wish to cater to. Covey's book is likely to appeal to people from all fields, while Carnegie's book is more suited for a typical office-goer who wishes to become a corporate honcho. Interestingly, although Covey uses simple language, Carnegie still scores over him in simplifying things to the extent that they become extremely easy to comprehend.



To conclude, 'The Seven Habits...' comprehensively describes the habits that can truly and positively influence and transform our lives. Over all, the book makes an interesting read, and deserves to be read and implemented upon again and again. 

Bibliography and have been consulted for writing about the author.


Contributed by -
Ankita Kapoor,
Student of MBA ,
ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad.



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Narendra singh mehra on 12/12/10 at 02:32 pm

7 habits of stephen r. Covey is beneficial for us. I m going n trying this book.

Very very Thanks to Stephen R. Covey....