David Covey: Moving on from the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People to self-navigation

Self-navigation is the key to powering your career, according to people and performance expert David Covey, who is visiting Australia from the United States.

Covey is the son of Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and has made a name for himself promoting self-navigation, which he describes as “the next seven habits of highly effective people”

Covey advocates moving from a ‘top-down’ management style to a ‘self-navigation’ model – specifically designed to empower employees and build a corporate culture centred on resilience, trust, improved productivity and retention of valuable staff.

Covey told SmartCompany the self-navigation model is represented by a compass where north represents where you are going, east is why you want to go there, west is about your planning and strategies and south deals with what is holding you back. 

“It’s like the Seven Habits because it is a journey of self-leadership, self-management and self-discovery,” he says.

Seven Habits is all around helping people be proactive and take responsibility for their life and in a very similar way this process is asking people to do the same thing.”

Covey says entrepreneurs and SME owners need to encourage employees to be proactive with their lives and need to look at the long-term benefits of this empowerment.

He uses the analogy of the Aesop’s fable, The Goose and The Golden Eggs.

“The golden eggs are the short-term results, that tension needs to be managed with the long-term goal of really building capability in your people,” he says.

“If you focus too much on the eggs and the results and you don’t build capacity or capacity in your people.”  

Covey says the biggest struggle for entrepreneurs is that they are bold, innovative and have big ideas but they are not able to transition it to other people.

“They are really good themselves but they are not good at developing others,” he says.

Peter Nankervis, managing director of knowledge at Lighthouse, the Australian provider of self-navigation training, says research shows only one third of employees understand the strategy of the business they are employed by.

“The challenge for SME owners is growth but the only way you can grow quickly is get your people aligned in the direction you are trying to grow in,” he says.

“The other thing for an SME entrepreneur is it is typically about them when they want to start a business and when you can teach people to self navigate you can equip your business instead of having one dominant person at the top.” 

The self-navigation compass:


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