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Business Strategy

The Secret To Leadership Success? Sharpen The Saw!

By March 2018September 1st, 2020No Comments
Beyond Accounting advice Want To Know The Secret To Leadership Success

Well, we are at the end of our 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey series. Now might be a good time to do a quick review of the previous 6 habits before finishing up with Habit 7: Sharpen the saw. What we have covered so far…

Habit 1

Be proactive

  • See alternatives, not roadblocks
  • Focus on what you can influence
  • I am free to choose and I am responsible for my choices

Habit 2

Begin with the end in mind

  • Mental creation precedes physical creation
  • Define practical outcomes

Habit 3

Put first things first

  • Focus on the important, not just the urgent
  • Effectiveness requires the integrity to act on your priorities
  • Plan weekly, act daily

Habit 4

Think Win-Win

  • Effective long-term relationships require mutual respect and mutual benefit
  • Build trust with co-workers

Habit 5

Seek first to understand, then to be understood

  • To communicate effectively, we must first understand eachother
  • Practice empathetic listening
  • Give honest, accurate feedback

Habit 6


  • The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
  • Synergise to arrive at new and better alternatives

Develop your leadership skills with this habit

Habit 7 is called ‘‘Sharpen the saw’’ and it means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It is a habit and principle to live your life on. A journey of ongoing, never-ending and continuous self-improvement.

How do you continuously self-improve?

To help us all figure out our relationship with time, personal change and sharpening the saw, Covey balances the concept across 4 main categories, which are:

  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Mental
  • Social/Emotional

Sharpening the saw must be balanced across these four dimensions, otherwise a disparity will be created. We can offset an imbalance for a while, but not for the long-term. When businesses ignore this four-dimensional balance, inefficiencies, defensiveness and lack of synergy (Habit 6) ensues, creating a loss in productively, customer satisfaction and, ultimately, profitability and business sustainability. We should consider sharpening the saw as an ongoing process of personal change. It’s not something that we can just do once or go hard at for a short period of time, believing that we’ve found an everlasting quick fix. It is about defining what success is in your own balanced, four-dimensional life. Remember, success is different for everyone, so its understanding what your version of success is across these four dimensions that is important. As a business owner and leader, part of your role is to help the people who report to you and look up to you explore these dimensions and establish goals for themselves.

Everyone is too busy but try to do it anyway!

It’s a given that we are all busy with little perceived time to work on ourselves. However, our future success and ongoing reputation depends on us taking action and dedicating time to sharpen the saw.

Business strategy: sharpen the saw Beyond Dublin

 “It means exercising all four dimensions of our nature, regularly and consistently in a wise and balanced way. To do this we have to be proactive.”

Stephen Covey

Here is a list of activities you could take up to sharpen the saw:


Daily exercise challenge Meditation Yoga Reviewing your diet and introducing better foods Cutting down on guilty pleasures that you know are not good for you Monitoring sleep and getting more consistent sleeping patterns Take up a sport or team activity Walk the dog or go for a walk with your partner/children


Spend more time at your local religious/spiritual meeting place Spend more time in nature – walking /hiking outdoors Explore your belief system and meet people who practice it to ask more questions Meditate and practice mindfulness Take time out from work each day to go for a walk


Journal – write daily Set and write down your goals Download a brain training app Read more books Sign up to a course – online or in person Listen to a new podcast Watch some educational videos on YouTube Teach your children/friends/family a skill you know Teach your team members a new skill Give a presentation Do a Toastmasters course to improve public speaking


Join a community group Meet your neighbours and invite them to dinner Volunteer for a local charity of interest See a counsellor and talk about your life – you don’t have to be ill to see these professionals Spend some quality time with your closest friend/s Spend some quality time with your family – immediate and extended Go to a music concert Over time remembering to sharpen your saw will get easier to plan and do. Whatever you choose will become the solid foundation for a life of quality. As you renew yourself in each of the four areas, you create growth and change in your life. Sharpening the saw keeps you fresh, so that you can continue to practice the other six habits effectively.

At Beyond, we take a holistic approach in everything we do… if you would like to work with a team that truly understands, get in touch and ask about our business advisory services. Get in touch today.