Dr Stephen R Covey passed away on Monday 16th July 2012, after suffering injuries in a cycling accident about 3 months prior to his death. You may remember him as the author of the best-selling business book of all time (more than 20 million copies sold), “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and many more like “First Things First”, “Principle-Centred Leadership” and “The 8th Habit”. But it will not only be for his writings that he will be fondly remembered, but most profoundly for his integrity and trustworthiness. Bob Whitman, Chairman & CEO of FranklinCovey Co., had this to say of Stephen: “It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that we share with you the sad news of the loss of Stephen R. Covey. Albert Einstein’s comment about Mahatma Gandhi seems most fitting for Stephen when considering the remarkable contribution Stephen has made to the world. “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood”.
Having met Stephen on a few occasions, I can certainly echo Bob Whitman’s and Einstein’s thoughts. Dr Covey’s passing will certainly leave a vacuum in the “profound leadership” arena. But aren’t there more like him in the world – people who lead business with integrity, who are not motivated by greed, but by principles of sustainability and who treat clients and staff with respect and dignity? I am sure that there are many dotted around the world, but too few. Every country in the world needs “Coveys”, business leaders who view their respective roles as “callings” and who view positional influence as an opportunity to serve.
It is not just business leaders who should take heed of examples of profound leadership, but politicians and other institutional leaders would also do well to follow such leadership modelling in the way that they govern countries and their respective organisations. Political “heroes” are few and far between – most politicians, once elected into position, spend all of their energy on “staying elected”, with little or no energy being applied to service delivery and keeping their electoral promises.
The world is currently experiencing a leadership vacuum – are you going to stand up and be counted?