7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Summary and Review)

Last month, we talked about First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman and learned that healthy businesses are first and foremost built on strong relationships between leaders and employees. Building on that knowledge this month, we’ll be going through The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey to discover what interdependence can do for your work life.

Instead of walking you through action steps and task-oriented plans, Stephen Covey reveals what a highly effective person does by first explaining what they are on the inside. This core set of values influences everything about a person, including their habits, and this sets up the premise of the book. We’ll get into the details below.

What Are the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?

As the book’s title promises, there are seven habits that “effective” people, or people who have a deep set of ethics that go beyond just their work life, seem to have in common. Covey does not keep these from his readers, but reveals each habit in advance. In order, they are:

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  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. Synergize.
  7. Sharpen the saw.

When listed out like this, these habits can seem simplistic or vague, but the book’s true value comes from Covey’s practical applications of each habit in the individual life.

Obviously, learning what each habit truly means is just the first step. The real value of this book comes from the real-life practice that you’ll have to put in yourself. It’s hard work, but with Covey’s helpful illustrations and your patience, you can develop these effective habits for yourself.

Independence vs. Dependence vs. Interdependence

As far as American work culture goes, we over-value independence. To be sure, people who are independent are self-starters who are motivated and dependable. However, those who rely too much on their independence are difficult to work with, lack teamwork, and don’t have a desire to help others.

At the same time, too many companies foster dependence, where each worker relies so heavily on their co-workers that, left to their own devices, the individual is overlooked, undersupported, and incapable of working on their own. Too much dependence, then, is just as unhealthy as too much independence.

That’s why The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People proposes that interdependence is the proper structure to any team. Interdependence starts with the recognition that each individual person is valuable and capable of doing great work independently of others, while at the same time recognizing that working with others results in better outcomes than working alone. Interdependence, then, is a healthy back-and-forth of dependence and independence, and it is the basis on which the 7 Habits flourish.

Our Review

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a book that has become essential to our work at Dotedison. Covey’s wisdom also affects the way we do marketing, as each of the habits is just as applicable to a person’s attitude as they are to a business’ marketing. All in all, we recommend this book to just about everyone… from a high school student wanting to make more of an effort in school to a top-tier business person making company-wide decisions.