You’ve probably come to know Dr Steven Covey from his famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People For the study of character and its role in leadership I recommend another one of his books: Primary Greatness: The 12 Levers of Success This book is a collection of Dr. Covey’s essays that never appeared in previous books and were published after his death.
Dr. Covey does the reader a huge service in their leadership journey by differentiating between primary greatness and secondary greatness.
He writes that primary greatness “is who you really are – your character, your integrity your deepest motives and desires.” Dr. Covey contrasts this with secondary greatness, which is “popularity, title, position, fame, fortune and honors.”
He continues: “A successful life is about primary greatness – a life of duty, honor, integrity, perseverance, self-sacrifice, and service, regardless of material rewards or circumstances. These are natural, universal, unbreakable principles.”
“Ironically, secondary greatness often – but not always – follows primary greatness. People of good character tend to win at life because people trust them.”
Character, in Covey’s view, is the source of primary greatness.
He emphasizes the preeminence of character believing that ‘what you are [your character], is ultimately more important than competence, what you can do. Primary greatness is, at its base, a matter of character.”
“All else builds on this cornerstone. Even the very best structure, system, style, and skills can’t compensate completely for deficiencies in character.”
“Ultimately, what we are (character) is the most critical component of success.”