Stephen R. Covey, world-renowned author of the best-selling business book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” died July 16, 2012 at 79 Years Old
Gov. Gary Herbert: “His combination of intellect and empathy made him a truly unique and visionary individual.”
U.S. Sen. Mike Lee: “His insight helped to shape the future of an untold number of businesses, resulting in better jobs and indeed better lives for people around the world.”
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch: “Utah lost a great leader today. His innovative thinking and common-sense approach to business, success and life has been taught to hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world, and will be followed for generations.”
Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber: “This is truly a loss to our community, to the country and to the free-enterprise system.”
Bob Whitman, chairman and CEO of Franklin Covey: “Stephen was one of the world’s great human beings. His impact is incalculable and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come.”
Utah Valley University: “As a university, we will be forever grateful for his support as a former UVU Foundation board member and as a founding member of UVU’s National President’s Advisory Board, which he remained actively engaged in for many years.”
Utah State President Stan Albrecht: “He was an inspirational leader who was always a powerful voice for individual integrity, strong character and extreme trustworthiness in every aspect of life. This is sad news for the world community.”
What people may not know is that Covey’s dream was to encourage children to recognize their own innate ability to lead and to develop third alternative solutions. The man who educated the world about leadership and how to attain it felt that this power was not only available to adults, but to children, too. He put many tireless hours into working with schools to achieve this.
“The concept is to get all little children to see themselves as a leader,” he says. “Not in the formal authority sense, but in more of a moral authority sense in that they live by principles and have responsibilities to influence other people.“
This drive of Covey’s resulted in the 2008 book “The Leader In Me – How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time.”
Covey, a former Brigham Young University business management professor, went on to write a string of books playing off “The 7 Habits” themes that reportedly sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages, became a management guru for companies and government agencies. He was named to Time magazine’s top 25 most influential Americans of 1996 and “The 7 Habits” made several lists as one of the best business books ever.
In 2011, Covey was ranked 47th in the Thinkers 50 list of world’s Top 50 business thinkers.
Lee Perry, a professor of human and associate dean at the Marriott School of Management at BYU, said he first encountered Covey as a missionary when his mother sent him quotes from a 1973 Covey book, “Spiritual Roots of Human Relations.” Perry then took a class from Covey as a BYU undergraduate, and when he returned as a professor of organizational behavior, he occupied Covey’s old office.
“Steve was an original thinker but he was also was a great collector of ideas,” Perry said. “His real genius was in taking a mixture of his own ideas, ideas imbedded in the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and from other academics — primarily in organizational behavior — and creating this ingenious blend that resonated with people.”
Jon Huntsman Sr., founder and executive chairman of the Huntsman Corp., called Covey “a dear and trusted friend.”
“Stephen was a brilliant and creative writer, a gifted professor of leadership, and a multi-talented man in every aspect of life,” Huntsman said in a statement.
Covey in February 2010 was the first recipient of the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University of in Logan.
Covey was born Oct. 24, 1932, in Salt Lake City. He was raised on an egg farm and in his teenage years suffered from a degradation of his thighbones, according to a 1994 Fortune magazine profile, a condition that led to three years on crutches with steel pins in his legs.
“I was a pretty good athlete, I really was,” Covey told Fortune. “But this shifted me totally into academics, and also into forensics. I got into debate, and speaking, and I got turned on by that.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Utah, an MBA from Harvard University and a doctorate from Brigham Young University.
Covey’s management post at BYU led to “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,”which launched a second career as management guru for the likes of Saturn, Ritz Carlton, Procter & Gamble, Sears Roebuck and Co., NASA, Black & Decker, Public Broadcasting Service, Amway, American Cancer Society and the Internal Revenue Service.
The books have legions of adherents in corporate America who swear by its principles.