Stephen Covey, whose book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People became a seminal guide to leadership, died this morning.
In a statement, the family said Covey died due the “residual effects” of a biking accident he suffered in April. He was 79.
“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 companies and government agencies, among them Saturn, Ritz Carlton, Proctor & Gamble, Sears Roebuck and Co., NASA, Black & Decker, Public Broadcasting Service, Amway, American Cancer Society and the Internal Revenue Service.
Covey’s book is perhaps best summarized by a 1994 profile from Fortune Magazine. Covey, the magazine reports, believed that humans could do their best by achieving a moral transformation.
“What Covey teaches is this: To do well you must do good, and to do good you must first be good,” Fortune reported. “‘We believe that organizational behavior is individual behavior collectivized,’ Covey says. ‘We want to take this to the whole world.’”
During one presentation in 1994, Covey got that message across by quoting French Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience,” Covey said.
According to the AP, after Seven Habits, Covey went on to write three other books that each sold more than a million copies.
Today, Forbes remembers him as a man whose book “brought a new language to business.”
And while the magazine accepts that many of his words — “seek first to understand, then to be understood;” “think win-win” — have become cliche, they “still aren’t commonly used in practice.”