In memory of Stephen Covey (October 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012)

Stephen Covey touched the lives of innumerable leaders through his work and writings. His classic Seven Habits of Effective People remains a much read and acted upon book

Stephen Covey died from complications following a bicycling accident sustained some months earlier [in April 2012].

His [1989] book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, sold more than 20 million copies. In it, he develops his ethical theories into a set of habits which can ead people from dependence, through independence to interdependence.

He also wrote three other best-sellers: First Things First; Principle-Centered Leadership; and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness.


Professor Covey was educated in business at the University of Utah, took an MBA from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Religious Education (DRE) from Brigham Young University. His work stemmed from his strong religious beliefs as a Mormon. He was a voice within the movement regarding leadership as an ethical responsibility, writing of the 21st century leader as service oriented:

We need to break away from the Industrial-Age psychology
that labels people as expenses and cell phones as assets.
Jobs should cater to our interests.
Instead of telling people what they’re hired to do,
we should ask them what they love to do.
Then create a marriage between that passion and your needs.

Social controversies

His foundation has had to deal with controversial social issues, in view of Mr Covey’s opposition to same-sex marriage. His campaigning included fundraising for Save Traditional Marriage 98 (STM98), a political action committee seeking a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

His work touches the beliefs of many people who do not share his religious affiliation. On a personal note, I find that even today, students from around the world on business courses regularly nominate “The Seven Habits” as the book on leadership that has influenced them the most.

4 Responses to In memory of Stephen Covey (October 24, 1932 – July 16, 2012)

  1. Mel Courtney says:

    I don’t do a lot of reading but about 6 years ago I was advised to read the ‘7 habits…’ by Covey and found it a remarkable book. It was the book I nominated as most influential at a recent workshop organised by Tudor at Manchester Business school.

  2. Liam Kearney says:

    Well this surprised me.

    I’d always thought of this book as one the dozens of pulp “how to get rich quick” books that litter the airport book shops.

    I’ll have to take another look, even I’m at the far end of my career.

  3. Thanks Liam and Mel. The exercise mentioned by Mel introduces a system for checking the credentials of ‘airport lounge’ books.

    I’m planning to take a more careful look at ‘The seven habits’ before commenting further. But there are certainly “nuggets” in the book which are found of value as a personal development aid. One such is the ‘circle of influence, circle of concern’.

  4. Leon Law says:

    I am one of the MBA student in Jul 12 intake from HK and heard this news during the GEL workshop. This really surprise me and I think this is surely a big loss to the world.

    I bought the Seven Habit when I was in business trip in Shanghai. Before buying this book, I haven’t heard Stephen nor the book and the content inside attracts my attention. I immediately introduce this to my colleague when I finish some parts of the book.

    The thing that most impressed me from the book is the emphasis of ethics. I always have a dilemma that rather putting the benefit or ethics as the first priority when making a decision, after knowing so many cases of getting benefit with not-so-ethical decision. Stephen affirms my idea and I hope more people agree with what Stephen thinks.

    RIP Stephen

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