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55 Stephen Covey Quotes on Leadership (7 HABITS)

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Top 11 Most Famous Stephen Covey Quotes on Leadership, Change, and Trust

“I don’t define leadership as becoming the CEO. A CEO is no more likely to be a leader than anyone else. I am talking about leading your own life, being a leader among your friends, being a leader in your own family.”

Stephen Covey
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
There are three constants in life – change, choice and principles.
There are three constants in life – change, choice and principles.
Live out of your imagination, not your history.
Live out of your imagination, not your history.
Are leaders born or made? This is a false dichotomy – leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.
Are leaders born or made? This is a false dichotomy – leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.
Leadership is the highest of the arts, simply because it enables all the other arts and professions to work.
Leadership is the highest of the arts, simply because it enables all the other arts and professions to work.
Make time for planning; Wars are won in the general’s tent.
Make time for planning; Wars are won in the general’s tent.
Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.
To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.
Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
Leadership is a choice that lies in the space between stimulus and response.
Leadership is a choice that lies in the space between stimulus and response.

44 Inspirational Stephen Covey Quotes to Help You Sharpen Your Saw

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smiling, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”

Stephen Covey
Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.
We see the world, not as it is, but as we are - or, as we are conditioned to see it.
We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it.
The way we see the 'problem' is the problem.
The way we see the ‘problem’ is the problem.
Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.
Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems.
It's not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.
It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.
Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It's not logical; it's psychological.
Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.
But until a person can say deeply and honestly, I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday, that person cannot say, I choose otherwise.
But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday”, that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise”.
Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.
Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.

“Every human being has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom: The power to choose, to respond, to change.”

Stephen Covey
Each of us guards a gate of change that can be opened only from the inside.
Each of us guards a gate of change that can be opened only from the inside.
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
The key to life is not accumulation. It’s contribution.
The key to life is not accumulation. It’s contribution.

“Deep within each of us is an inner longing to live a life of greatness and contribution – to really matter, to really make a difference. We can consciously decide to leave behind a life of mediocrity and to life a life of greatness – at home, at work, and in the community.”

Stephen Covey
Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.
Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.
What you do has far greater impact than what you say.
What you do has far greater impact than what you say.
You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.
You can’t change the fruit without changing the root.
Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.
Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.
If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.
If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.
When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.
When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.
Strength lies in differences not in similarities.
Strength lies in differences not in similarities.
Highly proactive people don’t blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice.
Highly proactive people don’t blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice.
Treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
Treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.
How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.
How you treat the one reveals how you regard the many, because everyone is ultimately a one.
Little kindness and courtesies are so important.
Little kindness and courtesies are so important.
Most arguments are not really disagreements but are rather little ego battles and misunderstandings.
Most arguments are not really disagreements but are rather little ego battles and misunderstandings.
Start small, make a promise and keep it. Then, make larger promises and keep them.
Start small, make a promise and keep it. Then, make larger promises and keep them.
We are free to choose our actions... but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.
We are free to choose our actions… but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.
If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control - myself.
If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.
Don't argue for other people's weaknesses. Don't argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it - immediately.
Don’t argue for other people’s weaknesses. Don’t argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it – immediately.
Be a light not a judge. Be a model not a choice. Be part of the solution not part of the problem.
Be a light not a judge. Be a model not a choice. Be part of the solution not part of the problem.
Primary greatness is on the inside. It's about character.
Primary greatness is on the inside. It’s about character.
Our character is basically a composite of our habits because they are consistent. Often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.
Our character is basically a composite of our habits because they are consistent. Often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.
The only thing that endures over time is the Law of the Farm. You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water it if you expect to reap the harvest.
The only thing that endures over time is the Law of the Farm. You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water it if you expect to reap the harvest.
To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.
To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.
Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.
Admission of ignorance is often the first step in our education.
Education the heart is the critical complement to educating the mind.
Education the heart is the critical complement to educating the mind.
Our most important financial asset is our own capacity to earn.
Our most important financial asset is our own capacity to earn.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important.
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
Most meetings are a waste of time, because they are so ill-prepared and there’s so little opportunity for true synergy in producing better results.
Most meetings are a waste of time, because they are so ill-prepared and there’s so little opportunity for true synergy in producing better results.
Once you have a clear picture of your priorities that is values, goals, and high leverage activities, organize your life around them.
Once you have a clear picture of your priorities that is values, goals, and high leverage activities, organize your life around them.

Stephen R. Covey Short Biography

Born on 24 October 1932 in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, Stephen Richards Covey was a New York Times Best-Selling author and businessman. He was awarded the 25 most influential Americans award by Times in 1996. (source)

He graduated from the University of Utah in 1952 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Covey went on to earn his MBA at Harvard Business School in 1957.

In 1970 he penned his first book; Spiritual Roots of Human Relations, and earned his doctorate in religious education six years later from Brigham Young University, in Utah.

Covey started his management consulting business in 1983, it is currently known as Franklin Covey Co.

Six years later, in 1989, Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a business and self-help book that influences powerful lessons in personal change. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is still one of the best-selling non-fiction business books of all time.

Covey was awarded the International Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 1994 (source) and became a professor of the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University in 2010.

Further Reading:

Here are the best Stephen R. Covey quotes so you can gain inspiration and tips to help you grow your business ventures. 

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