3 Leadership Lessons from Meeting Stephen R. Covey

coveyDr. Stephen R. Covey died in 2012. His legacy encompasses millions who have read his works (7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleFirst Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness). I remember reading 7 Habits many years ago in one of my first “business” classes in college circa 1996. At the time, its impact on me was minor. Sure, I knew what I had read was meaningful and worthwhile but I failed to implement what Dr. Covey espoused.

Fast forward more than a decade and I was sitting in church across the aisle from Dr. Covey. My interaction with Dr. Covey was brief (and by brief, I mean only a handful of words were exchanged) but I learned lessons I still reflect on to this day:

  1. Leaders are humble. On that particular Sunday, Dr. Covey was just another faithful follower desiring to be better. He recognized God’s hand in his life and showed gratitude to for the help/blessings he received. I remember being a bit awe-struck after the meeting and “introducing” my daughter to this fine man and he laughed off my “Dr. Covey” introduction. Not all leaders feel this sense of humility; not all leaders believe in God, a higher power. Regardless of their belief, leaders are humble enough to recognize that they don’t know it all. They understand everyone can teach them something.
  2. Leaders are genuine. Leaders are who they are. They don’t pretend to be more (or less) than that. I remember holding my young daughter (less than 2 years old) and she kept looking across the aisle. I looked and found Dr. Covey making faces and entertaining her. He didn’t care who saw him or who said what to him. He had a “job” to do that day (keeping my daughter entertained) and he seemed determined to do it.
  3. Leaders lift others. My daughter could be a handful at that age (and continues to be most days). Sitting for a few minutes was often challenging; sitting for an hour could seem like torture to her. Without knowing the challenge I was about to face, Dr. Covey stepped in (from across the aisle) and made that hour as pleasant as it could be for a father. Maybe he remember the challenges he faced as a young father or maybe he just loved kids. Regardless, he lifted a burden and made it easier for me to bear. “Lift Someone Daily” is what Richard Seaman (Beacon Leadership Development) says is the role of any leader. I agree!

Leaders do much more than this and I hope to explore many of those as this blog develops!

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