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Window into Wipfli

Why the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is not just a leadership development course

By Aditi Patil

“I thought this class was going to be lame …”

So began one of our Wipfli associates when asked about his experience with the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course.

Amid roaring laughter from the rest of the group, he proceeded to complete the rest of his sentence:

“But it turned out to be lifechanging and transformational.”

This was not the first time I’ve heard feedback like this. We’ve had a steady percentage of participants who arrive with a healthy skepticism and leave shouting from the rooftops about why everyone else at Wipfli should take this course.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a flagship program under the Wipfli leadership experience training series. It is available across the firm to all our associates. Yet, it is more than just a leadership development course.

Wipfli associates that take the course can emerge better spouses, parents, sons, daughters, community leaders, colleagues and more.

How do we know?

  1. They share stories and examples in class and during their final capstone project. Tears are shed and hard things are crossed off their list.
  2. We do a pre- and post-360 assessment where 100% of the groups show improvement in every habit.

While the 7 Habits experience at Wipfli is part of our leadership development training, what we reiterate each time is that this course goes beyond that. It empowers Wipfli associates to transform themselves personally and professionally.

So, what do our associates experience when they embark on this journey?

They begin before they begin

Even before diving into the content, we bring the participants together for a kick-off session. During this session, they get to know exactly what to expect, who their peer group is, how to access the assessment and more. They then have three weeks to prepare themselves as well as gather their 360 assessments.

Learning is spread over a period of 14 weeks

Changing habits takes time. Participants experience this session over 14 weeks where they get a chance to apply what they learn and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Each session is no longer than two hours.

Habits are taught in bite-sized sessions, one habit at a time

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 7 Habits class was taught over two days. You learned the habits and then applied them. Or in most cases, got sucked back into your daily life. In our early days of design, we had an aha moment from our participants in the design-thinking session: Why not break apart the habits and teach them over a longer period? It was a brilliant idea that is now in practice.

First, participants learn habits one through three. They then get a break to apply those habits. Once they’ve mastered what is called the “Private Victory,” they move on to habits four through seven, which are part of the “Public Victory.”

They receive mentorship

As part of this experience, they receive mentorship from 7 Habits ambassadors. The 7 Habits ambassadors are senior leaders in the firm who have learned the habits and exemplify them. Each ambassador is assigned a team of five people to mentor.

Our ambassadors not only provide a safe space for each associate, but they also challenge them to think differently.

They are part of structured accountability sessions

Once they’ve learned the habits, they meet weekly in their teams of five. This is their time without the ambassador and the facilitator to help each other stay accountable. This is also their support system to catch them when they do fall.

Many of our teams have stayed in touch long after the experience has ended. That is the power of these sessions.

They learn to celebrate their success (and the group’s success)

We provide two opportunities (capstones) where they get to show off and celebrate their success in living the habits. They present to their ambassadors and the teams of five. At the end of the experience, we celebrate by laughing and crying together.

They truly live the 7 Habits

At Wipfli, we take the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People out from the PowerPoint slides and the participant guide and into our associate’s lives. I have goosebump moments when I hear from associates how they transformed a difficult relationship or achieved a long-procrastinated goal.

That’s why at Wipfli, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is not just a leadership development experience. It is an experience that transforms the lives of our associates and of those around them.

As for me …

As the designer and facilitator of this experience, I often sit back and pinch myself. I feel blessed that this is my job. I learn something new from each of the groups I facilitate. And I stay accountable to my own journey of loving and living the habits.

Most of all, I feel grateful to work for an organization like Wipfli that truly values its people as their most important resource and consistently invests in learning experiences such as these.


Aditi Patil is a manager in Wipfli’s talent and organizational development team who writes the Everyday leadership with Aditi series on LinkedIn. Learn more about how Wipfli invests in associate growth and explore open positions in our careers section.

Aditi Patil

Aditi Patil
Manager, Talent & Org Development

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