In the pompous expanse of the Darbar Hall, Taj palace about 400 affluent, most Indian of course, assembled to be enlightened by the legend called Dr. Stephen R Covey. Yes, I was one of them who had their habits intellectualized the other day i.e. on the 16th October. However, I wonder how much of this learning can and will be, in coveys nomenclature, walked and lived by how many of us in course of the coming months, much less the life ahead.
I am sure this would sound negative to those who talk positive both ‘formally’ and ‘morally’ and most certainly to those who are still basking in Covey’s shining aura. I admit, despite the risk of being taken as a critic if not skeptic, that Dr Covey did succeed in arousing in me the sense of ‘moral authority’ to feel deeply ashamed to relearn the ‘Principle-centered Leadership’ through the life of none other than Mahatma Gandhi by spending nearly 20k in a swanky 5 star seminal hall. I had actually failed to join my fellow participants in their boisterous clapping spree. No aspiration to Stephen covey, but I did feel that I was learning about my father from an uncle! I had instantly realized that perhaps I deserved nothing more to learn on this day for I belonged to a nation which runs a wide spectra of formal authorities including bureaucracy, governance, ministry and religions outfits with Mahtama’s image bearing the sermon Satymeba Jayate when a large number of them disown the ‘moral authority’ to do so. Why else should I be the part of a ‘formal’ seminar where about 50 lacs rupees are spent in a few hours to be required on the values and principles of the father of the nation, alongside a 5 star lunch, disowning the ‘moral responsibilities’ of doing something for my millions of starving brethren who represent the large India on the flip-side
Dr. Covey mentioned of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa more loudly than any other business giants in a crowd that represented a rather affluent business and allied world with a likely aspiration primarily concerning business success. Perhaps we lack adequate powerful examples to drive home the concept of Principle-centered Leadership in the business arena. My apprehension is, whether this seminar, which was perhaps aimed to create an intellectual awareness, will at all actually arouse proper action in a mass of our kind? Mind you, we are talking about the crowd that has failed to respond to the first hand lessons from the lives of these leaders (and many more like Raja Ram Mohan Roy) who had evinced and lived by operating at a much closer proximity than Mr. Stephen Covey.
Stephen covey’s examples of principle-centered leaders were people who worked primarily without money, profit, name and fame motives. As such, they were devoid of appointing any PR campaign or Networking agencies. Such means, on the contrary, are characteristic features of the business process.
To me publicity and performance are two contrasting attitudes. The term ‘principles’ therefore can apply to only one of them – and you know which one is that.
One of Stephen Covey’s most celebrated quotes has been, “Behaviour is governed by values and consequences are governed by principles. Therefore value principles”. If this quote was a ‘fact’ and not an ‘opinion’ then ask all those top level, adored and coveted business maharajas who bear a debt of few hundred crores to India’s exchequer as taxes, what they had to say to Covey’s principles.