The recession means people are paralysed by fear. They are concerned about their jobs and worried about the future. Fear changes things. When people are fearful it undermines trust, there is no transparency or honesty and people get duplicitous. They can't achieve more with less because they are not on the same page.
People need to decide for themselves what greatness looks like to them. Then they have to execute with excellence and create a high-trust environment with all their stakeholders. Low trust slows people down and increases costs.
Top-down management doesn't work any more. But most top executives I work with haven't bought into the new paradigm that we are living in a knowledge worker age. The industrial age is over. They pay lip service to this, but then slip back into their hierarchical, command and control ways.
These old paradigms hold people back. They work hard at trying to do better within the old paradigm, but they aren't changing and without that there is never a breakthrough. Once I learned about the concept of paradigms and mental models, I examined everything around me through that lens and looked at how to improve things.
The reaction to the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has surprised me. We've sold 25 million copies. But as I have got deeper into the material, it becomes more obvious that the Seven Habits are based on universal and timeless truths. I have taught them all over the world and wherever people are, these principles resonate.
We have taught the seven habits in schools and prisons. In one Colorado prison, we put 900 inmates through the programme and of the 600 released only one returned to crime. It's about changing the paradigm from punishing bad guys to rewarding positive behaviour.
All breakthroughs, in every sphere of activity, have involved a "break with". There is no breakthrough without a change in paradigm. We need to break with the old ways of thinking. The structure of scientific research shows us that breakthroughs require a break with the old ways of thinking.
The eighth habit is about organisations, rather than individuals. It's about creating a culture of creativity. This is more pressing than ever. It allows people to develop third alternatives. Not my way, or your way, but a third way that we reach together. It's not about being accountable to leaders but being accountable to the group.
Companies don't know what to do about uncertainty and unpredictability. They are paralysed with fear and can't do their own jobs, they are not on the same page as their colleagues and can't execute with excellence. They are still in a top-down mode and are concerned about being politically correct. This leads to a negative synergy where the whole adds up to less than the sum of the parts. They are unable to release the creative energy of the people in the business.
For details of An Evening with Dr Stephen Covey on October 14, visit www.greatexpectations.info