Stephen Covey and Organizational Competence


Stephen R. Covey, the author of the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People passed away in July of this year and it sent shock waves around the globe. Covey was an educator, a businessman and a revered figure in the world of organizational and individual effectiveness. He was considered by some as “one of the world’s foremost leadership authorities, and organizational experts.” The popularity of his book is without question, having sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages.

The principles and concepts the book put forth are not new; however, they touch upon themes that still seem to challenge many leaders. The question of “how to increase the overall effectiveness of your organization, and the people who work in it?” still seems to perplex many organizations.

Covey’s book covers two major areas: self-mastery of the individual or as he puts it “the private victory”, and the interdependence of the organization or “the public victory”. In this latter section (Habits 4, 5, and 6) he spends a great deal of time exploring the ability of individuals to work effectively with each other. It is exactly this dynamic which is at heart of organizational effectiveness or organizational competence. Organizational Competence is ultimately that stage organizations need to achieve to be self-sustained, effective and successful. It is achieved when leaders are committed to providing the strategy and resources to develop individuals within the organization. It has been said that organizations are only as effective as the individuals within them; however, organizational competence is a stage of synergy when leaders discover how to get alignment and corporation throughout the organization.

Organizational competence is the convergence of certain elements: staff competence, staff performance, and effective leadership at all levels working together to advance the goals of the organization. As we move into this post-Covey era, the questions that remain for leaders are:

  • What are the strategic objectives of my organization, and are they communicated and understood at every level in the organization?
  • What critical skills do I need to achieve them, and are they present?
  • Do we have alignment and cooperation throughout the organization?
  • Does everyone understand how their individual performance impacts the overall success of the organization?
  • If barriers exist within the organization, what are we actively doing to remove them?

In this fast paced, globally challenging business environment, how leaders answer these questions will determine how successful they are at reaching maximum potential, and delivering on stakeholder value.

Stephen Covey will be missed by many, but the universal principles he authored will continue to be the foundation for how individuals and organizations achieve success and effectiveness.

Leave A Response