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Stephen Covey leaves lasting business legacy

Stephen R. Covey
Stephen R. Covey

SALT LAKE CITY — The name Stephen Covey is synonymous with leadership in the business world.

And it is likely that particular virtue will leave the most lasting legacy in the life of a man who always made an impression on those he came across.

"Steve was an original thinker, but his primary gift was being able to communicate complex ideas in a way that people could understand and connect to them," said Lee Perry, associate dean of the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University. "He resonated with people."

Covey taught individuals how to be more effective, he said.

"His approach was if people could be more effective personally and interpersonally that it would make organizations better," Perry said.

Covey left a legacy that will continue to inspire individuals and organizations to lift and bless the lives of others, said Douglas Anderson, dean of the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.

"While his contributions to the world have been remarkable, we know he measured his success in the individual lives of those he taught," Anderson said.

Covey's principles on organization and leadership propelled him into elite status in the global business community.

Covey was the author of a number of acclaimed books, including the international bestseller "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," which has sold more than 20 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. Other bestsellers include "First Things First," "Principle-Centered Leadership," "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families," "The 8th Habit," "The 3rd Alternative," "The Leader in Me" and "Everyday Greatness."

In 2002, Forbes named "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" one of the 10 most influential management books ever written. Chief Executive magazine recognized the book as one of the two most influential books of the 20th century.

Covey was also co-founder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, a renown global professional services firm based in West Valley City. In 2008, Covey launched the Stephen Covey's Online Community — a Website featuring online courses, goal management and social networking. A year later, he launched a career development webinar series to help people struggling in the economic downturn.

In February 2010, Covey became the first Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership. As a research professor, he visited the campus to speak with students and offer advice to academic leaders in the business school.

"While Dr. Covey was best known for the book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," his insight offered in the many other best-selling books he has authored cannot be overlooked," Anderson said. "In fact, his latest book, 'The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life's Most Difficult Problems,' is this year's required reading for all Huntsman students."

Covey earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from University of Utah, an MBA from Harvard University and a doctorate from BYU. He was also the recipient of eight honorary doctorate degrees, including Utah State University in 2001.

"We are grateful for the time and effort he invested here with each of us as the first Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership, sharing his insights, talking with our students and helping us refine a vision of the kind of leaders we can all be," Anderson said.

Covey's impact was felt around the world at so many levels, he added.

"We at the university know him best, of course, as a scholar and mentor to students, professors and our leadership teams over the course of many years," said USU 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."

Covey not only made a significant impact on the Utah business community, but business people everywhere, said Lane Beattie, president and chief executive officer of the Salt Lake Chamber.

"He believed that leadership was the application of principle in life," Beattie said. "(For him) it was never how to get ahead by stepping on others. It was how to get ahead by lifting others."

"Everything he had done in his life was to help people understand what true leadership was and the impact it has," Beattie said. He noted that Covey lived those principles in his business life and in his personal life.

Utah entrepreneur Alan Hall was a student of Covey's while studying at BYU. He said Covey made a distinct impression upon him and many others from the first time they came in contact with him.

"He got so engaged in what he was doing. You could see the sparkle in his eye (and) the enthusiasm and passion for what he was teaching," Hall said. He said Covey's legacy will be the core principles he espoused about how to be successful in business and life.

"He brought to the forefront some "best practices" that when followed really give people happiness, success and fulfillment," Hall explained. "He'll go down in history as someone who enlightened a lot of people."

Bob Whitman, chairman and chief executive officer of FranklinCovey, called Covey "one of the world's great human beings."

"His impact is incalculable and his influence will continue to inspire generations to come," Whitman said.

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