Remembering Stephen Covey

We at Wiley and Jossey-Bass were shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of thought leader and leadership authority Stephen Covey. Author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Covey was a frequent contributor to our “Leader to Leader” journal. We’d like to share a bit of two of Stephen Covey’s “Leader to Leader” contributions with you.

The Habits of Effective Organizations
“I believe leadership lies more in character than in technical competence, but these two are interwoven. As people grow in competence they gain awareness of a new dimension of the character. Then, as they begin to develop that aspect of their character, they find that their competence also increases. For instance, when we tre3ac the skill of empathic listening—in other words, Habit 5—people see that they’d always looked at things from their own frame of reference, and the start to explore the richness of other people’s perspective. As they get better at listening, they gather more information, and realize they’ve always lived with an insufficiency of data. Applying that learning to their personal and professional lives is exciting. People say, “Now I really know why to listen, instead of just how.” So these two—the why of the character and the how of competence—feed one another.”

Leading in the Knowledge Worker Age
“I have written much over the years on effectiveness. Being effective as individuals and organizations is no longer optional in today’s world—it’s the price of entry to the playing field. But surviving, thriving, innovating, excelling, and leading in this new reality will require us to build on and reach beyond effectiveness. The call and need of a new era is for greatness. It’s for fulfillment, passionate execution, and significant contribution. These are on a different plane or dimension. They are different in kind—just as significance is different in kind, not in degree, from success. Tapping into the higher reaches of human genius and motivation—what we could call voice—requires a new mind-set, a new skill-set, a new tool-set…a new habit.”

Stephen Covey was such an inspiration to so many in the nonprofit world and beyond. He will be missed.

(Quotes excepted from Leader to Leader, Winter, 1997 and Summer 2006 issues, copyright John Wiley and Sons)


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