7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 6: Synergize
March 7, 2014 3 Comments
The first time I read Habit 6: Synergize from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I remember feeling a sense of a crescendo… that Habit 6 was unifying the previous Habits… both Personal Habits (Habits 1 – Habits 3), and the Interdependent Habits (Habits 4 – Habits 5… and 6). And then I came across a quote from Stephen R. Covey in the Habit 6 chapter that confirmed my feeling, it reads, “the true test and manifestation of all of the other habits put together.”
What Is Synergize?
Synergy is what happens when two or more forces choose to work together with open, trusting intention to embrace each others differences and to overcome the challenges that will inevitably arise. The benefit of Synergy is that the end result will be something that is far superior to anything that could exist without the cooperation and sharing of the forces.
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey writes about how:
- Synergy has the ability to unify forces (people, departments, companies, countries)
- Synergy is important to being an important leader and a successful, sustainable organization
In the context of two or more people – it is the minds, experiences, and openness and mutual respect of each person coming together that creates a new alternative.
Synergy & Steve Jobs
I believe synergy was a key approach Steve Jobs used to create the Apple empire (as I learned from the Steve Jobs biography written by Walter Isaacson). From this biography I don’t think I’d call Steve a great leader, but it does seem Steve Jobs was exceptionally good at identifying greatness in others, connecting people and inspiring them to find unique – new solutions to challenges (often that he imposed). Under his watch there was rapid product-line evolution and innovation.
It is important to note that it is our differences that make synergize possible.
The truth of Habit 6 is that differences are what make synergize so powerful. For example: When two people have different experience / education and when they learn to embrace / respect each others differences and work together, what they create will be greater than what each individual could create on their own. If they are very similar, their accomplishment would not be synergy. Why? Because when everyone has similar values / needs etc… nobody is motivated to look for new opportunities – to stretch; compromise is Lose / Win.
Differences Example: If you represent a lady’s shoe company with 100 customers and you buy another ladies shoe company with 100 customers, chances are the manufacturing, delivery, marketing will be similar and the merger will be relatively easy… but you are still representing a lady’s shoe company and in the end will likely have less than 200 customers – because of pre-existing customer overlap.
But, if you are representing a lady’s shoe company with 100 customers and you buy a mans shoe company with 100 customers, chances are the manufacturing, delivery, marketing will be different and there will be many challenges to work through (opportunity for synergy), as you merge… but because of synergy you are now representing a whole new shoe company and perhaps have up to 400 customers (cross selling to exiting customers husbands/wives/partners).
When there is a clearly defined common purpose, differences lead to better outcomes.
Embracing differences does not mean you have to become each others best friend. For example, when you have two or more leaders with strong Type A personalities working together… cooperation will be difficult sometimes. But, embracing differences does mean we have to remain open to the different ideas, values, needs and feelings of others. When we do this we gain new insights and it is a learning opportunity (personal growth).
What’s Required For Synergize?
When people / companies work under these guidelines, synergy and new ideas begin to emerge. Participants / companies have to:
- Have one common vision – one common goal
- Be different
- Have a sense of self
- Stay open to differences and new ideas – stay authentic
- Embrace trust
- Accept the better way will likely not be their way…100%
- Offer respect to everyone – everything
- Be able to apologize and forgive
- Practice mindful listening (listen with empathy)
- Maintain an open desire to understand
- Control negative judgment
- Stay with Win / Win (not Negative synergy Win/Lose or Lose)
Conclusion: Building Partnerships
When you synergize you have to spend less time fixing problems because your employees are working with each other and creating systems and learning expertise and efficiency as they drop their guards and increase synergy – between team members and across teams.
It is a struggle for people and companies to synergize because the ‘old’ way of doing business is more of a push system – not a collaborative, synergistic solution. But you can succeed by creating alignment / vision at the top and by training and supporting your staff to ensure synergy is taking place.
The highest level of communication is positive synergy (Win / Win) communication. The truly effective person remains positive by being is mindful of their own abilities and limitations, and respectful of the abilities… and limitations of the people around them.
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- Stephen R. Covey: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ©
- Michael Bungay Stanier: Do More Great Work ©
- Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs
- My experience