July 28, 2016

Stephen Covey's Principle-Centered Leadership Model - Summary







Natural laws also called principles operate in the nature whether you discover them or not, and whether you use them or not. If you use, natural laws, and act in their direction you will succeed. If want a result contrary to them and act against them you are bound to fail. This is the essence of Covey's Principle-centered leadership model. It is scientific leadership. Develop science, find out or discover natural laws and develop your leadership method based on it. Find the principles and develop practice based on it.

People have to recognize and live in harmony with such basic principles as fairness, equity, justice, integrity, honesty, and trust.

Stephen Covey proposed a wheel of personal life centered on principles. Principles are at the center of the wheel. This center of principles guides us in four dimensions specified by Covey.

1. Security dimension of a person: It represents sense of worth, identity, emotional anchorage, self-esteem and personal strength.

2. Guidance: It is the direction was one receives and absorbs in life. There is an internal monitor that compares the conduct of a person with the standards and principles that he has accepted and he has to accept. Covey gives the name conscience to it.

3. Wisdom: Wisdom refers to a sage perspective on life. It is a keen understanding of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. The development of wisdom involves observation (discernment), comprehension and judgment.

When people are low on wisdom, their maps are inaccurate, and their actions and thinking are based on distorted and discordant principles. A person with high end wisdom dimension has a good life compass that shows him the true north and all the parts of his behavior and the principles he uses in developing his behavior are properly related to each other. Also as we move from low end to high end in wisdom, there is higher commitment to the ideal (things as they should be) in managing the realities (things as they are). Wisdom also provides the ability to identify pure joy (sat-chidananda) from temporary pleasure.

4. Power: Power is the capacity to act and accomplish something. It also includes the strength and courage. It is also the vital energy to observe or identify choices and to take a decision, that is selection of one of them as the right way. At the low end, we have powerless people. At the high end are visionaries who plan and make things happen which seem to be impossible to many in the existing conditions.

These four dimensions or factors are interdependent. When these four factors are developed in a balanced and harmonious manner, a noble personality emerges. A great leader becomes available to the organization.

While principles are the center of a wheel of relationships and a person develops certain dimensions of his personality based on the principles, the relations are with self, spouse, other family members,, money, possessions, work, pleasure, friend, enemy and church. Many more can be named. It is in these relations that principles and the four great personality dimensions come into behavioral manifestations that give effectiveness and efficiency.

In the case of organizations, the relationships are with owner, customer, employee, supplier, programs, policies, competition, image, technology, and profit. Some more can be added.

Real empowerment comes from educating a person in both principles and practices. Principles are the why to do explanations. Practice is how to do explanation.

The challenge for a leader is to be a light. He should not be judge. He has to be a model, not a critic.

In the words of Stephen Covey, "The Challenge is to be a light, not a judge; to be a model, not a critic."


Principle centered leadership is to be practiced from the inside out on four levels.

1. Personal or self level (leading self)
2. Interpersonal (leading others)
3. Managing task (short term with existing people and processes)
4. Managing an organization  (developing it, recruiting people, training them, building teams, solving problems, compensating them, creating alignment etc. strategy and systems development)

There are certain master principles to be used at each level.

At personal level - trustworthiness

At interpersonal level - trust

At task level management - empowerment

At organizational level management - alignment


Chapter 1  Characteristics of Principles-Centered Leaders


1. They are continually learning.
2. They are service oriented.
3. They radiate positive energy
4. They believe in other people
5. They lead balanced lives.
6. They see life as an adventure.
7. They are synergistic: Principles centered leaders practice the principle of synergy. Synergy is a state in which the whole is more than the sum of the parts. The output from the combination of a synergistic leader and a follower is always more than the individual outputs of the leader and the follower. The leader increases his followers and a follower follows a leader for this benefit. Leader who practice this principle are amazingly productive with  new and creative ways and help their followers to increase their output helping them to work smartly. In team endeavors, these leaders strive to complement the weaknesses of some members with the strengths of some others so that team becomes more productive
8. They exercise for self-renewal: This is the practice of the seventh habit. Sharpen the Saw. In a way, it is restatement of first principle. They are continually learning and practicing to increase their productive capability.

Chapter 2 Seven Habits of Highly Effective People


1. Be Proactive

2. Begin with the End in Mind

3. Put First Things First

4. Think Win - Win

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

6. Synergise

7. Sharpen the Saw


More on the 7 Habits

1. Be Proactive
Proactive people feel control of their life is in their hands.

They feel:  "I am not a product of my culture, my conditioning and the conditions of my life; I am a product of my principles, values, attitudes, beliefs and behavior - and those things I control."


7. Sharpen the Saw
Detailed article on Sharpen the Saw
Sharpen the Saw - The Mental Dimension - Stephen Covey's Explanation

A Poem on Sharpening the Saw and Seven Habits


I keep myself fit by exercising and  eating right
I improve my knowledge I read and write
I help my friends and feel delight
I wish in the world all enjoy without a fight

I live my life according to Covey's principles
I  remember them as important values
I try to understand what is said by others
Covey said that gives victories

Let me recount the effective seven
Be proactive, think of end and begin
Do first thing first and think win win
Understand first, synergize, and sharpen

Poem written by Narayana Rao K.V.S.S. on 1 March 2015


Chapter 3. Three Resolutions


1. To overcome the restraining forces of appetites and passions:

I resolve to exercise self-discipline and self-denial.

2. To overcome the restraining forces of pride and pretension:

I resolve to work on character and competence.

3. To overcome the restraining forces of unbridled aspiration and ambition:

I resolve to dedicate my talents and resources to noble purposes and to provide service to others.

Chapter 4. Primary Greatness


Three Essential Character Traits

Integrity: As we clearly identify our values and proactively organize and execute around our priorities on a daily basis, we keep meaningful promises and commitments.

Maturity: Balance between Courage and Consideration
If a person can express his feelings and convictions with courage balanced with consideration for the feelings and convictions of another person, he is mature.

Abundance Mentality: Our thinking that there is plenty out there for everybody.




Eight ways to enrich marriage and family relationships

1. Retain a long-term perspective.
2. Rescript your marriage and family life.
3. Reconsider your roles.
4. Reset your goals.
5. Realign family systems.
6. Refine three vital skills (time management,
communication, and problem-solving).
7. Regain internal security.
8. Develop a family mission statement.


Making Champions of Your Children

1. Build your children’s self-esteem.
2. Encourage primary greatness.
3. Encourage your children to develop their own interests.
4. Try to create an enjoyable family culture.
5. Plan ahead for family events.
6. Try to set an example of excellence.
7. Teach them to visualize so that they can recognize their own potential.
8. Adopt their friends.
9. Teach your children to have faith, to believe and trust others, and to
affirm, build, bless, and serve others.


Chronic Problems of the Organization

The organization has:

1. No shared vision or values.
2. No strategic path.
3. Poor alignment.
4. Wrong style.
5. Poor skills.
6. Low trust.
7. No self-integrity.


Quality leadership values people. It is rooted in the timeless principles of faith and hope, constancy and consistency, and virtue and truth in human relations.


 Principle-centered leadership “embraces the principles of fairness and kindness and makes better use of the talents of people for increased efficiency, but also leads to quantum leaps in personal and organizational effectiveness” (p. 180).


Leader has to empower the followers and trust them. They in turn empower the leader and trust him.



Updated 29 July 2016, 2 March 2015,





2 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing the great link.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The poem is now liked by 10 people on FaceBook.

    ReplyDelete