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Stephen Covey and DISC: a powerful combination

You have probably heard of Stephen Covey or The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Combined with DISC, these habits can provide valuable insights into both personal development, team development and development in your personal leadership. In this blog, we will have a closer look at the seven habits of highly effective people and their powerful combination with DISC.

Stephen Covey (1933-2012) was a well-known American author and speaker, best known for his bestseller ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’. In this book, he shared practical principles for success in life and work. Covey emphasised things like being proactive, setting goals and effective communication. His ideas have had a lasting influence on personal development and leadership, and are therefore still often used.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Habit 1: Be proactive
Covey encourages proactive behaviour. Take responsibility for your choices and actions.

Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
Covey stresses the importance of having a clear vision for the future. Develop a clear vision for yourself, and set clear goals in the process.

Habit 3: Put First Things First
Covey’s third habit is about prioritising important tasks. Prioritise tasks based on urgency and importance.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Covey advocates seeking solutions that benefit all parties. Look for the common ground and strive for cooperation.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Covey emphasises empathetic listening and understanding, before you want to be understood yourself. Listen actively and ask questions before putting forward your perspective.

Habit 6: Synergize
Covey encourages collaboration and synergy. Work together and create added value by combining different perspectives.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Stephen Covey emphasises the importance of self-care, growth and renewal, both personally and professionally, to remain effective. Take care of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Combining Stephen Covey and DISC

The power of combining Stephen Covey’s seven habits and the DISC model lies in the fact that they complement each other. While Covey’s model focuses on personal growth and leadership, DISC offers insights into how people behave and communicate. By combining the two, teams can better understand how to work together more effectively and develop leadership qualities.

Quality: Leadership and proactivity. The dominant behavioural style can take on the role of initiator, encouraging the team to achieve goals. This fits with habit 1 (be proactive) of Covey. But habit 2 (start with the end in mind) can also match the qualities of the red behavioural style. Indeed, goal orientation and result orientation are also characteristics of the red behavioural style.
Development point: Work on improving listening skills and the ability to value input from other team members. This aligns with Covey’s habit 5, which emphasises empathetic listening. Dominant individuals can become more effective team players by giving more space to others’ ideas and suggestions.

Quality: Inspiration and team building. People with the yellow behavioural style can positively influence the team and be a motivating force, creating a healthy team culture. This fits nicely, for example, with Stephen Covey’s habit 6 (synergy).
Development point: Work on setting clear goals and developing a strategic vision. Covey’s second habit (start with the end in mind), can help team members with the yellow behavioural style define measurable goals and set long-term directions.

Quality: Team cohesion and reliability. Team members the green behavioural style contribute to a positive team culture by creating a harmonious environment and maintaining consistency. Feature 5 (understand first, then be understood) is therefore really a quality of the green behavioural style.
Development point: Be more assertive when sharing ideas and opinions. Feature 1 of Stephen Covey (be proactive), can help the green behavioural style to make their voice heard and contribute more actively to team discussions.

Quality: Accuracy and reliability. The blue behavioural style contributes to the quality of work and can act as the team’s ‘quality guards’. They often focus on structure, planning, and adherence to rules, so they tend to set goals and focus on the end result. Feature 2 (start with the end in mind) therefore really fits the blue behavioural style.
Development point: A development point for people with the conformist behavioural style in relation to Covey’s habits is the fifth habit (try to understand first, then be understood). Because people with a blue DISC style sometimes focus heavily on compliance with rules and procedures, they may tend to focus on their point of view rather than really listening to others. This habit challenges them to show empathy and understanding of others’ views before sharing their perspective.

Another example of how these models work together is, for example, by applying habit 5: ‘First understand, then be understood’ from the Covey model. This involves team members actively listening before putting forward their point of view. With the help of the DISC model, team members adapt their communication to different behavioural styles in the team. This leads to better conversations and more in-depth understanding between team members.

Getting started with Stephen Covey and DISC

How can you combine the two? We have written out a work format for you below! This form of work focuses on developing personal effectiveness by promoting feedback and self-reflection.

  1. Ask each team member individually to write down their qualities, pitfalls, challenges, etc. based on their personal DISC style and Covey’s seven habits. Ask them for specific examples of situations where they have applied these principles.
  2. Organise feedback sessions in small groups, in which team members discuss each other’s self-assessments and provide additional feedback.
  3. Write the feedback and self-insight on a large whiteboard or flipchart and discuss the findings as a group. What were the similarities and differences in how team members apply Covey’s habits and how they communicate based on their DISC style?
  4. Discuss concrete action points and goals for personal development based on the feedback and insights. Have each team member draw up an action plan for improving personal effectiveness.

By using this form of work, you increase awareness of growth in personal leadership combined with each team member’s potential from their DISC profile.

Applying DISC to personal development

There are many other ways to apply DISC to personal development. One example is the Core Quadrant of Daniel Ofman. This is a very popular model because of its simplicity. With a DISC analysis, you will gain more insight into your qualities and pitfalls. You can use this when filling in the core quadrant. We have developed a canvas that you can download directly, so you can get started right away!

Another way you can use DISC is by creating a Personal Development Plan (PDP).
By applying DISC, you can shape your personal development plan in a more targeted way based on the specific skills relevant to your behavioural style. This significantly increases your chances of actually achieving your goals. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about!