“Habits Covey debates and the skills and traits

“Habits constantly express our character and produce our effectiveness –
or our in-effectiveness” (Covey, 2004). In his book The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People, Stephen Covey identifies seven habits he believes are
shared by all truly effective people and by how acquiring them gives you the
character to succeed (Covey, 2004). The Harvard Business Review Extract ‘The
Transition to Leadership’ talks about how when you proceed into your new role
as a manager, you don’t automatically became a leader; there are new traits and
skills you need to learn in order to be an effective leader (Harvard Business
Review, 2017). I will be discussing the similarities and differences between
the seven habits Covey debates and the skills and traits the Harvard Business
Review offers. Furthermore, in light of what I will discuss, I will consider my
own style of management and leadership and how I will develop my skills for the
future.  “Be Proactive” is Covey’s first
habit, which he explains as “recognising our responsibility to make things
happen” (Covey, 2004). This means using your initiative to do what is necessary
to get the job done and focussing on things you can change (Covey, 2004). To be
effective one needs to anticipate problems and find solutions, rather than wait
for them to happen and responding to them then (Sáez, n.d.); this causes
positivity among the team (Covey, 2004). Andrew Speed, Stage Manager at the
National Theatre, states “To be a good stage manager you need to be proactive
not reactive” (Speed, 2016). An example could be if you know there is a big
scene change in a production, have diagrams of what the two scenes look like, have
a plan of action of what needs to happen, in what order and by who and complete
a dry tech of it so that when it comes to the scene change in the technical
rehearsal, no time is wasted figuring out how it will work and the rehearsal
will be more efficient. This is a way of building influence; “The Transition to
Leadership” claims people are more likely to be motivated and perform highly if
they find you personally persuasive because of your character, competence and actions
(Harvard Business Review, 2017). Covey’s second habit is:”effectiveness to begin
with the end in mind. It means to know where you’re going so as to understand
where you are now and take your next step in the right direction” (Covey, 2004). This means setting goals so you can take steps in the right direction.
The HBR extract also states that a common leadership trait is being
future-focussed. “Do you organise short-term tasks according to long-term
priorities?” (Harvard Business Review, 2017). You will only be effective when
you begin with the end result in mind; there is no point of working
frenetically and heedlessly as this will not get you to where you want to be
(Covey, 2004). In Stage Management for example, the end goal could be for some people having
all the paperwork and information necessary for an efficient technical
rehearsal and good relationships built by this time so that it runs as smoothly
as possible. If you know you want everything ready by this date, then you can
better plan your short-term tasks to achieve this goal. Goal-setting allows you
to be better prepared so you are further ahead. This was recognised early on by Henri Fayol (1841 – 1925), a scientific
management writer, who identified five elements of management; planning,
organising, command, co-ordination and control. Fayol described planning as
“examining the future, deciding what needs to be achieved and developing a plan
of action” (Mullins, 2010, 429). Fayol also suggests a set of 14 ‘principles of
management’ of which the fifth is unity of direction which means there should
be one head and one plan for a group of activities with the same objective
(Cole and Kelley, 2015, 25). Therefore, this means that the team is working
towards one set goal using the same plan which is more effective as it provides
guidance and direction and avoids doing unnecessary tasks. Moreover, planning and goal-setting is important because it can act as a
motivator. Locke’s goal theory states that people strive to achieve goals in
order to satisfy their desires which in turn improves performance.  People who set challenging, quantitative
goals are more likely to perform better than people with easier goals. This is
because they have a better sense of achievement as they receive feedback and
can measure their performance (Mullins, 2010, 277). Therefore, in theatre, one could say everybody has the same objective of
making the production the best it can be. 
This is the end goal, which everyone works towards. This in itself can
act as a motivator because putting on a successful production and getting an
applause at the end may be a sufficient sense of achievement for an individual.
However, Laurie Mullins says:”Employee participation in the setting of goals may lead to higher
performance” (Mullins, 2010,
278) Consequently, as a manager and leader it is important to help your team
come up with their own sub-goals which are plans of action which ultimately
achieve the shared end objective. This could help to motivate them as they will
achieve a sense of achievement identifying their own goals in relation to the
shared goal and can measure their performance and receive feedback (Mullins,
2010, 278). These are activities which a transformational
style of leader would undertake. Transformational leaders set clear goals and
there is good communication. They encourage high levels of motivation among
employees and the emphasis is on creating goals for the company. These leaders
make sure employees are aware of the importance of the task outcomes in order
to motivate them to perform highly (Mullins, 2010, 391). For example, a Stage
Manager could set a goal with the Assistant Stage Manager to have a draft of a
prop plot ready by the technical rehearsal and make sure they know why they are
doing it and why it is necessary for the end goal as this will motivate them as
by having a prop plot which makes the technical rehearsal run smother will give
them a sense of achievement and motivate them to improve their
performance.   When setting these goals, a leader needs to
understand the individual team member’s motivation and ability to complete the
task effectively. This is a situational theory of leadership which Hersey and
Blanchard developed in the 1970s. It is based on the readiness of the team
members, which is the individual’s ability and willingness to complete specific
activities (Mullins, 2010, 389). There are 4 levels of readiness and the leader
adapts their behaviour and level of support to suit each level. They adapt the
extent which the leader gives directions on how to undertake the task and the
extent to which they provide support and encouragement. For example, the
leadership style of delegating, giving little direction and motivation, is
appropriate for team members who have high ability and motivation to achieve
the goal whereas the selling style, which includes giving a lot of direction
and encouragement is more suitable for those with low ability but willing
(Mullins, 2010, 389-390). Stephen Covey’s fourth habit is ‘Seek first to understand, then to be
understood’. This is about listening to simply understand, to see how other
parties see things (Covey, 2004). This is similar to one of the common
leadership traits the HBR extract mentions “Do you empathise with other
people’s needs, concerns and goals?” (Harvard Business Review, 2017). You can
only work with someone productively if you really understand what matters most
to them (Covey, 2004). This habit is critical in achieving Win-Win solutions,
which is Covey’s fifth habit. To be effective, you need to find a way both of
you can benefit by your interaction (Covey, 2004). A way of achieving this is through an assertive style of communication. This
skill enables the individual to state their opinions, feelings and requirements
in a clear and open way, which will help with negotiations in order for both
parties to be happy with the outcome. It enables the individual to stand up for
their own opinions whilst also understanding the needs of the other party
(Maccoy, 2004, 44). By honestly and openly asking for what you want but also
listening to what the others need, you increase the chance of your needs being
met and you will be respected by others and they will also open up to you
(Maccoy, 2004, 44-45), which is effective when coming up with a solution to
satisfy both parties. Empathy is a key trait of being an assertive communicator; it means
showing you have listened to the other person and understood them fully
(Maccoy, 2004, 45). If you don’t entirely understand what the other person
needs, then you can’t make a suitable compromise and will possibly make others
feel angry and will not want to continue to contact you (Maccoy, 2004, 45-46). Covey
recognises assertive traits in his fourth habit ‘Seek first to understand, then
to be understood,’ where he describes the importance of empathy in working
productively with others and also recognises the importance of integrity and
empathy in his habit ‘Think Win/Win’ where he asserts “You must have enough empathy to work a win for your counterpart and
enough courage to make a win for yourself” (Covey, 2004) All these skills and traits are important in budget meetings in theatre.
Stage and Production Managers must completely understand and empathise with the
needs of all the other departments and also confidently say what the Stage
Management team needs so that you can come up with an agreement which suits the
needs of everyone. This is important to keep up good relationships and “work on
your agreement in an atmosphere of trust” (Covey, 2004). This will help to
successfully achieve the final goal.Covey’s sixth habit is “Synergize”:              “We make a whole greater than the sum of its parts” (Covey, 2004)This is about creating new possibilities by understanding other people’s
perceptions (seek first to understand) and finding strengths in other people’s
values (Covey, 2004). ‘The transition to leadership’ also discusses how working
well and frequently with team members leads to exceptional collective results
(Harvard Business Review, 2017). The importance of synergy was recognised early
on in the scientific management phase, where Fayol identified espirit de corps, which means team
spirit, as one of his 14 principles of management. He was aware that managers
needed to be sensitive to individuals needs and the importance of harmony in an
organisation (Cole and Kelley, 2015, 25). It is important to avoid the team
dividing (Mullins, 2010, 430) because this causes inefficiency if members are
doing their own thing and not collaborating and listening to each other’s
inputs. In theatre, it’s important that all the production team are working
collaboratively and are on the same page otherwise the production will fall into
chaos (Management Theory History). Stephen Covey’s seventh habit is ‘Sharpen the Saw’; this means devoting
time to renewing ourselves physically, mentally, socially, emotionally and
spiritually in order to be effective and make all the other habits possible
(Covey, 2004). The HBR extract ‘The Transition to Leadership’ similarly states
that taking care of yourself – not neglecting your personal life, protecting
your downtime and taking care of your health are all preventative measures in
order to keep yourself balanced during the transition to leadership (Harvard
Business Review, 2007). This originates from social scientist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of
Needs”, a motivational theory which he first produced in 1954 and is one of the
most popular models in leadership writing. Maslow argued that staff can be
motivated through means other than pay and proposed they are instead motivated
by the desire to satisfy a specific group of needs (physiological, safety,
love, esteem and self-actualisation). The system is that a person can only move
up the hierarchy if lower-level needs have been satisfied (Cole and Kelly, 2015,
48). Once lower-level needs have been satisfied, more of the same doesn’t
provide motivation. Although a simple theory, it works in terms of people need sleep, food
and security in order to do a good job. Therefore, this theory is particularly
important for Production Managers who create the working environment by
producing the production schedule. They ensure it covers adequate rest and
breaks for the team so they are not demotivated and unproductive by being
hungry and tired. However, the theory does not take into consideration that people don’t
need to fulfil the needs in that particular order and people satisfy needs at
different levels as their lives change. Clayton Alderfer (1972) argued
individual needs were better explained as being on continuum, rather than in in
a hierarchy (Cole and Kelly, 2015, 48). Alderfer modified the hierarchy into
three levels – existence needs, relatedness needs and growth needs (ERG Theory).
Unlike Maslow’s theory, lower-level needs do not have to be satisfied before
they can move up to a higher level need. If an individual cannot fulfil a
particular need at a particular time, they can focus on a different need
instead (Mullins, 2010, 264). In the mid-twentieth century, Herzberg
founded a two-factor theory of motivation and job satisfaction. These are known
as ‘hygiene’ factors, which are there to prevent dissatisfaction, and
‘motivators’ which motivate individuals to perform well. Hygiene factors are
similar to Maslow’s lower-level needs, e.g. job security and working conditions
and motivators relate to higher-level needs, e.g. growth and advancement
(Mullins, 2010, 265). This is a very simple theory which suggests managers
should focus on the motivating factors, however, Herzberg argues the hygiene
factors and avoiding dissatisfaction are just as important as the motivators
(Mullins, 2010, 265). For example, Stage Management need to make sure there are
good working conditions in the rehearsal room as it will cause dissatisfaction
if there is not. Production managers can also affect the
team’s job satisfaction because if they do not schedule adequate rest and
breaks in the production schedule, the team will become dissatisfied from poor
working conditions and not having enough rest. This relates to Covey’s seventh
habit ‘Sharpen the Saw’ and HBR’s extract about looking after yourself as if
you cannot take care then you cannot be as effective as you would like to be. A contrast between HBR’s extract ‘The
Transition to Leadership’ and Covey’s seven habits is that HBR focuses on the transition
from being a manager to becoming a manager and leader whereas Covey focuses on
the learned habits of an effective leader. For example, HBR describes some of
the emotional challenges of transitioning from a manager to a leader. One of
these is Imposter Syndrome. “You feel chronically inadequate and struggle
to conceal the fact from others” (Harvard Business Review, 2017)This involves being afraid to make mistakes
in fear of making mistakes will diminish your power, not being a good role
model and being uncomfortable with the amount of power you have over other
people. Some solutions HBR mentions are sharing information but also seek
assistance when you need it, admitting your mistakes makes you more
approachable and focus on behaviours rather than preoccupying yourself on
anxious feelings (Harvard Business Review, 2017). Social psychologist Amy Cuddy believes
changing your behaviour changes your mind. She believes in “faking it until you
make it” and that your body language shapes who you are. If you stand in a
power pose for two minutes, it increases your testosterone levels and lowers
your cortisol levels and these hormonal changes configure your brain to be
assertive and confident (Cuddy, 2012). This is important for being successful
and showing your team that you do know what you are doing and you have control
over the situation. A further contrast between the two items is
that HBR discusses the difference between personal influence and authority.
Managers in theory have formal authority to make decisions and direct employees
however, people won’t necessarily do something just because you tell them to
(Harvard Business Review, 2017). This is an autocratic style of leadership
where the power is with the manager and the manager alone makes decisions and
has the authority to determine how to accomplish work tasks and goals (Mullins,
2010, 381). This can be demoralising for employees because they are not
involved in any of the decisions and may feel they are not getting any
recognition for their work. This was demonstrated in the Hawthorne studies in
the 1920’s demonstrated that productivity increased when managers gave
attention to their workers (Mullins, 2010, 53-54). Therefore, a democratic
style of leadership is more effective because employees are involved in
decision-making and ways of completing tasks to achieve goals therefore they
are more motivated as there is greater focus on the team and individuals feel
involved (Mullins, 2010, 381).In light of what I have discussed, the most important lesson I’ve learnt
is to not have only one style of management but to adapt my style depending on
the team I am working with and the situation. Applying lessons learnt from
Hersey and Blanchard’s situational style of leadership, I would assess my teams
ability to carry out tasks and their motivation and adapt my behaviour
according to this. If I were working with an ASM who were not 100% sure what
they needed to do but were willing to complete the tasks, I would coach them
through how to approach the task or show and explain to them a template of a
props plot, for example, so that they could go ahead and complete the task, as
the ‘The Transition to Leadership’ states becoming a leader is about coaching
people to carry out tasks on their own and helping them develop their own
competencies (Harvard Business Review, 2017). On the other hand, if I was
working with an ASM who was competent, I would be more hands-off and let them
get on with their work but encourage them and check they are getting on okay.  Empathy is a key trait in transformational leadership for understanding
your team’s needs and what motivates them. In order for me to adapt my
management style to suit the needs of the people I am working with, I will
first need to understand their thoughts, feelings and situation. I need to
understand as a manager, when an individual is struggling and would be useful
to intervene with supportiveness or feedback and when someone will feel like
they are being micro-managed if I intervene too much. Empathy is also important
in creating an “atmosphere of trust” (Covey, 2004). I want to be empathetic
towards my team so that they can trust me and approach me if there is a
problem. Maccoy states that”Theatre making is, by its very nature, a
truly collaborative process involving a large group of people…striving together
to create the perfect end-goal” (Maccoy, 2004, 24). and I believe that empathy is way of being able to collaborate
effectively; if you do not understand how the other party sees things then you
cannot work with someone productively because can’t give them what they need in
order to do their jobs. For example, when Production Managing I want to
understand what it is each department needs so I can give them enough budget in
order for them to be able to achieve the overall shared goal of making the
production the best it can be.  Another key leadership trait I will take on in the future is Covey’s
second habit ‘begin with the end in mind’ and setting goals. As a Stage
Manager, I think it’s very important to know that the end goal is the opening
night of the production and everything needs to be done by this date or even by
the technical rehearsal in order for it to run as smoothly as possible. Knowing
that everything needs to be done by a certain date means you can work backwards
and set sub goals of what needs to get done. I would make sure the team know
why they are completing a task and how it helps to achieve the overall goal in
order to keep them motivated from feeling a sense of achievement.  Jesse Sostrin argues that people are less likely to care if they lack
understanding about why something happens but if you tell them how they fit
into the bigger picture, it will increase personal relevance and encourage them
to participate (Sostrin, 2017). This type of transformational leadership is
important to me as a manager since Stage Managers aren’t motivated by the
hours, glamour or money therefore, I would want to help keep my team motivated
by reminding them of the end goal and hearing the applause at the end of the
show. Applying lessons learnt from the Hawthorne Studies, individuals are more
productive if they are given attention therefore, I would give my team
recognition for their work to make sure they know that their work is valuable
for the overall goal.  I have previously worked on a show where there was a lot of negative
energy throughout the whole team; this caused unproductivity and the team not
thinking of the end goal and made the process very slow and dissatisfying. This
is something I want to avoid whilst managing; I want to create a positive
working environment so that my team want to do a good job. This was recognised
early on by Fayol and his fourteenth principle of management ‘espirit de
corps’; managers need to encourage team spirit (Cole and Kelley, 2015, 25) and is also recognised in Maslow’s belonging needs
– employees need to feel they belong to a group in order to self-actualise.  

Due to my introvert nature, I need to find a way to work on my vocal
confidence so that I can better establish my position during the technical
rehearsal. I learnt this during my DSM role where I struggled to have a strong
presence in the room. I tend to edge towards the passive side but in order to
become a more effective manager I need to become more assertive so that I have
a strong presence in the room so that I can run the technical rehearsal more
smoothly and make sure everything is run in the allotted time. I believe using
Amy Cuddy’s idea of using body language to train your mind to feel more
assertive and confident is something I could try in order to develop my
confidence and become more assertive. This would allow me to build trust among
team members and allow them to respond more positively and openly so that the
end goal can be achieved.

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