A critical analysis of Stephen R. Covey(TM)s " The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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A critical analysis of Stephen R. Covey’s – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Brett Gallaway


Marine Event Management

S. Bowens



This paper aims to give an overview of Coveys 7 Habits of highly Effective People followed by a critical analysis of his work. A brief history of Dr Covey will be given along with an introduction to is book. The 7 Habits themselves will then be given, along with critical considerations of each. The paper will then finish with a summary and conclusion.

Dr Stephen R. Covey

Covey, born in Utah in 1932, is a hugely influential management guru whose book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ has become, for many people, a blueprint for personal development.  Other books he has written include First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, with his latest book being entitled The 8th Habit. As well as being a father of 9, Covey also runs a consultancy based in Utah and travels from city to city presenting seminars to businesses, non-profit organizations, government departments, and educational institutions. Included his prestigious list of clients are Proctor and Gamble, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Federal Express, and Shell Oil (Franklin/Covey, 2007).

Covey’s book promotes his idea of principle-centered learning by the use of his ‘7 Habits’ concept. He advocates the belief that “the actions of empowered people will energize and change the whole system in which these people live and the society in general” (Covey, Stephen R. 1990). He also says that these, empowered people, develop the ability to control their responses to the world around them by creating a freedom of choice. This freedom comes from becoming ‘proactive as opposed to reactive, this forms the basis for Habit 1.

According to Jim Parsons and Tara Fenwick of the University of Alberta, “Covey’s principles and the practical suggestions for living he gives are generally not only sound, but honestly ethical in nature” (Parsons, J & Fenwick, T. 1996). It would appear that Covey’s principles are based on recognizable common senses and organized is such manner as to give them a progressive structure. It is this common sense, progressive structure, that Covey has capitalized upon and which, he claims, will foster huge benefits in four particular areas;

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  • Improved self confidence and self esteem
  • Improved relationships
  • The ability to motivate and influence others
  • A new found sense of adventure and creativity

Covey makes potent claims about how lives can be altered by adhering to his 7 habits, and it is these which will now be considered.

Covey’s 7 Habits

The basis for Covey’s book are the 7 habits, or principles. He advocates that, “the 7 habits should form the basis for evolving the best behavioral patterns, or habits, for living happily and effectively” (Covey, Stephen R. 1990).

Habit 1- Be proactive: Covey suggests that ...

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