150 Inspirational Stephen Covey Quotes on Leadership

Stephen R. Covey was a famous American educator, author, businessman and speaker, known for his influential works on leadership and personal development, including ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’.

Covey’s teachings centered on the “Character Ethic”, stressing the alignment of one’s values with universal principles.

His later works expanded upon this foundation, with ‘The 8th Habit’ emphasizing the transition from effectiveness to greatness and ‘The Leader in Me’ focusing on the application of his principles in education.

Stephen Covey

As an influential figure, Covey’s philosophical background was shaped by various American self-help books, Peter Drucker, Carl Rogers and his affiliation with the LDS Church.

Related: Dale Carnegie Quotes and Eckhart Tolle Quotes.

Despite his passing in 2012, his contributions to leadership development continue to inspire individuals and organizations worldwide.

I have handpicked the best quotes by Stephen Covey in this article.

Best Stephen Covey Quotes

1. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” ~ (Stephen Covey).


2. “Start with the end in mind.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

3. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

4. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

5. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

6. “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.” ~ (Stephen R. Covey).

7. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

8. “Treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

9. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

10. “Make time for planning: Wars are won in the general’s tent.” ~ (Stephen Covey).


11. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

12. “There are three constants in life: change, choice and principles.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

13. “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

14. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

15. “To achieve goals you’ve never achieved before, you need to start doing things you’ve never done before.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

16. “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

17. “Proactive people carry their own weather with them.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

18. “Synergy is better than my way or your way. It’s our way.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

19. “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” ~ (Stephen Covey).


20. “The way we see the problem is the problem.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

21. “Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

22. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

23. “Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

24. “Leadership is a choice, not a position.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

25. “Accountability breeds response-ability.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

26. “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

27. “Taking initiative is a form of self-empowerment.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

28. “What you do, has far greater impact than what you say.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

29. “One thing’s for sure. If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting. One definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

30. “Live your life by a compass, not a clock.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

Top Stephen Covey Quotes

31. “When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

32. “Self-awareness involves deep personal honesty. It comes from asking and answering hard questions.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

33. “Where you are headed is more important than how fast you are going. Rather than always focusing on what’s urgent, learn to focus on what is really important.” ~ (Stephen Covey).


34. “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

35. “To live; to love; to learn; and to leave a legacy.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

36. “The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

37. “People don’t listen to understand. They listen to reply. The collective monologue is everyone talking and no one listening.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

38. “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

39. “It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it and appropriately act on it.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

40. “You always reap what you sow; there is no shortcut.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

41. “The essence of synergy is to value differences-to respect them, to build on strengths, to compensate for weaknesses.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

42. “If the big rocks don’t go in first, they aren’t going to fit in later.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

43. “All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

44. “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

45. “You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

46. “We judge ourselves by our intentions. And others by their actions.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

47. “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.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

48. “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

49. “We not, not our feelings. We are not our moods. We not even our thoughts.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

50. “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

Famous Stephen Covey Quotes

51. “The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”” ~ (Stephen Covey).

52. “The ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

53. “Role modeling is the most basic responsibility of parents. Parents are handing life’s scripts to their children, scripts that in all likelihood will be acted out for the rest of the children’s lives.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

54. “The environment you fashion out of your thoughts, your beliefs, your ideals, your philosophy is the only climate you will ever live in. The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

55. “There’s strong data that, within companies, the No. 1 reason for ethical violations is the pressure to meet expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

56. “Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

57. “All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

58. “Response-ability is the ABILITY to choose our response to any circumstance or condition.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

59. “Organize and execute around priorities.” ~ (Stephen Covey).


60. “If you want to be trusted, be trustworthy.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

61. “Find your voice, and inspire others to find theirs. Don’t ignore that longing to make a difference.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

62. “A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

63. “Be proactive. Ask yourself, “Are my actions based on self-chosen values or on my moods, feelings and circumstances?”” ~ (Stephen Covey).

64. “What is common sense isn’t common practice.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

65. “Trust is a function of two things: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, your motive and your intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, your skills, and your track record. Both are vital.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

66. “Passion is the fire, enthusiasm and courage that an individual feels when she is doing something she loves while accomplishing worthy ends, something that satisfies her deepest needs.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

67. “The proactive approach to a mistake is to acknowledge it instantly, correct and learn from it. This literally turns a failure into a success.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

68. “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

69. “Private victories precede public victories. You can’t invert that process any more than you can harvest a crop before you plant it.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

70. “Being is seeing in the human dimension.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

71. “Your power to choose your direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

72. “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

73. “You don’t see the world as it is, you see it according to who you are.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

74. “When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

75. “Synergy: The combined effect of individuals in collaboration that exceeds the sum of their individual effects.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

76. “Self-mastery and self-discipline are the foundation of good relationships with others.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

77. “It doesn’t really matter how fast you’re going if you’re heading in the wrong direction.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

78. “To listen with empathy is the most important human skill.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

79. “Results matter! They matter to your credibility.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

80. “All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically. The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blueprint of the desired result.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

Inspiring Stephen Covey Quotes

81. “Sacrifice really means giving up something good for something better.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

82. “Unless you’re continually improving your skills, you’re quickly becoming irrelevant.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

83. “Do what is important, not what is urgent.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

84. “Efficient management without effective leadership is, as one individual phrased, it, “like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic”.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

85. “The greatest and most inspiring mountain climbing achievements in history are not so much stories of individual achievement, but are stories of the extraordinary power of a unified, talented, prepared team that stays loyally committed to one another and to their shared vision to the end.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

86. “Your systems are perfectly designed to get the results that you are getting.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

87. “An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

88. “Live simply and appreciate what you have. Give more. Expect less.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

89. “People are your most valuable asset. Only people can be made to appreciate in value.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

90. “I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

91. “People are social beings and want interaction and social learning is the primary form of learning, just as word of mouth advertising is the highest form of advertising.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

92. “True leadership is moral authority, not formal authority. Leadership is a choice, not a position. The choice is to follow universal timeless principles, which will build trust and respect from the entire organization. Those with formal authority alone will lose this trust and respect.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

93. “The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritizing your life around the most important things.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

94. “You think effectiveness with people and efficiency with things.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

95. “As long as you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

96. “Network marketing has come of age. It’s undeniable that it has become a way to entrepreneurship and independence for millions of people.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

97. “Interdependence is a higher value than independence.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

98. “Leaders are not born or made – they are self-made.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

99. “The place to begin building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our circle of influence, our own character.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

100. “When we listen with the intent to understand others, rather than with the intent to reply, we begin true communication and relationship building. Opportunities to then speak openly and to be understood come much more naturally and easily.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

101. “We must never be too busy to take time to sharpen the saw.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

102. “We think we see the world as it is, when in fact we see the world as we are.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

103. “It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

104. “Difference is the beginning of synergy.” ~ (Stephen Covey).


105. “Beginners are many; finishers are few.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

106. “Highly proactive people don’t blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

107. “Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

108. “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

109. “To know and not to do is not to know.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

110. “To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

111. “Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

112. “The only thing that endures over time is the ‘Law of the Farm.’ You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water if you expect to reap the harvest.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

113. “Free your heart from hatred – forgive. Free your mind from worries – most never happen. Live simply and appreciate what you have. Give more. Expect less.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

114. “We can act instead of being acted upon.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

115. “The greatest risk is the risk of riskless living.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

116. “You can’t hold someone accountable for results if you supervise their methods.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

117. “Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people. But it takes time and patience.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

118. “Self-awareness is our capacity to stand apart from ourselves and examine our thinking, our motives, our history, our scripts, our actions, and our habits and tendencies.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

119. “Paradigms are powerful because they create the lens through which we see the world.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

120. “Life is a mission, not a career.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

Short Stephen Covey Quotes

121. “Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

122. “Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical; it’s psychological.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

123. “Win-win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It’s not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

124. “Trust is the highest form of human motivation.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

125. “The key to success is dedication to life-long learning.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

126. “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

127. “Almost every significant breakthrough is the result of a courageous break with traditional ways of thinking.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

128. “Once you have a clear picture of your priorities – that is values, goals, and high leverage activities – organize around them.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

129. “Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

130. “The reality is that everybody makes mistakes. The issue isn’t whether you will make them, it’s what you will do about them. It’s whether you will choose the path of humility and courage or the path of ego and pride.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

Stephen Covey Quotes for Motivation

131. “The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

132. “To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

133. “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

134. “Compliance does not foster innovation, trust does. You can’t sustain long-term innovation, for example, in a climate of distrust.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

135. “Most people struggle with life balance simply because they haven’t paid the price to decide what is really important to them.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

136. “Moving along the upward spiral requires us to learn, commit, and do on increasingly higher planes. We deceive ourselves if we think that any one of these is sufficient. To keep progressing, we must learn, commit, and do-learn, commit, and do-and learn, commit, and do again.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

137. “Satisfied needs do not motivate. It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates. Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival – to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

138. “If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

139. “Visualising something organizes one’s ability to accomplish it.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

140. “Humility is the mother of all virtues, courage the father, integrity the child and wisdom the grandchild.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

141. “Everyone chooses one of two roads in life – the old and the young, the rich and the poor, men and women alike. One is the broad, well-traveled road to mediocrity, the other road to greatness and meaning.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

142. “Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it themselves.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

143. “Make small commitments and keep them. Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

144. “Some people achieve the top of the ladder and only then realize it was standing against the wrong wall.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

145. “Where there’s no gardener, there’s no garden.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

146. “We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so we chose the attendant consequence. If we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

147. “Time management is a misnomer, the challenge is to manage ourselves.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

148. “To Retain those who are present, be loyal to those who are absent.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

149. “When you engage in a work that taps your talent and fuels your passion-that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to meet-therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

150. “Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust. Nothing is as fulfilling as a relationship of trust. Nothing is as inspiring as an offering of trust. Nothing is as profitable as the economics of trust. Nothing has more influence than a reputation of trust.” ~ (Stephen Covey).

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar