• The Leader in Me: How Schools Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time

    by Stephen R Covey


                The Leader in Me is written by Stephen R. Covey, Sean Covey, Muriel Summers, and David K. Hatch.  The lead author, Stephen R. Covey, is a businessman best known for writing The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  This book is a children’s version (for an adult audience) of the original 7 habits book, which serves as an informative introduction into the Leader in Me organization, an organization and program for schools to implement the 7 habits of highly effective people for their students, staff, and families.  This book is frequently read by all staff at a school who has decided to implement the Leader in Me program, but it can also provide some helpful tools and insightful knowledge for a lone teacher, school counselor, or parent to draw from when teaching, counseling, or raising a child or teen.


    The 7 Habits:

    1.      Be Proactive: I am a responsible person.  I take initiative.  I choose my actions, attitudes, and moods.  I do not blame others for my mistakes.  I can only be offended if I choose to be.

    2.      Begin with the End in Mind: I plan ahead and set goals.  I do things that have meaning and make a difference.  I am an important part of my classroom and contribute to my school’s mission and vision, and look for ways to be a good citizen.

    3.      Put first things first: I spend my time on things that are most important.  This means I say no to things I know I should not do.  I set priorities, make a schedule and follow my plan.  I am disciplined and organized.

    4.      Think Win-Win: I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for what others want.  I make deposits in other’s emotional bank accounts.  When conflicts arise, I look for options that work for both sides.

    5.      Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood: I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings.  I try to see things from their viewpoints.  I listen to others without interrupting.  I am confident in voicing my ideas.  I look people in the eyes when talking.

    6.      Synergize: I value other people’s strengths and learn from them. I get along well with others, even people who are different than me.  I work well in groups. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems because I know that by teaming with others we can create better solutions than any one of us alone.  I am humble.

    7.      Sharpen the Saw: I take care of my body by eating right, exercising, and getting sleep.  I spend time with family and friends.  I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just at school.  I take time to find meaningful ways to help others.


    The 7 habits can be incorporated into a school system in many ways.  The author encourages school staff to be creative and make their version of the 7 habits fit with their culture and what is already being done.  The most common and easiest way to incorporate the 7 habits is through integrated instruction, which means teachers can take the 7 habits and disperse their meaning and lessons into curriculum they are already teaching.  This creates less work for them and will allow the 7 habits to seep into the culture as it already exists.  Incorporating the seven habits is also something which can be done at home.  Covey suggests that the easiest and most effective way to make sure children and teens follow the 7 habits themselves is through strong role modeling.  Covey warns that teens especially will sense the hypocrisy if an adult is teaching about the 7 habits without following the habits in their own lives.

    A strong takeaway from this book is the severe need we have for children and teens to incorporate more life-skills into their education.  Covey consulted with business leaders to test out the Leader in Me program, seeking feedback regarding their impressions of students who came from a 7 habits school compared with other students.  Businesses noticed and appreciated the leadership traits and life-skills shown by the students from a 7 habits school.  Business are facing a workforce who have been educated in a world where factual knowledge was “king.”  Life-skills, creativity, and problem solving are not as present as they would like in many of today’s job applicants, and businesses are desperate for schools to produce leaders with personal and interpersonal skills.  Knowing this information means that anyone tasked with aiding in the upbringing of today’s youth would do well to incorporate the 7 habits or a similar life-skills/leadership program.


    Chapter 1: Too Good to Be True?

    ·         Creativity and problem solving skills are highly linked with success

    ·         Times have changed.  Factual knowledge is no longer “king.”

    ·         New reality provides three evolving challenges: academics, culture, and life skills

    o   Academics: In today’s world, students must learn how to not just memorize and regurgitate academic facts but also apply them to authentic situations.  They must have stronger analytical, critical-thinking, problem-solving, and creativity skills to succeed in the years ahead.  For this to happen, educators must reexamine and adjust their teaching styles and curriculums to accommodate this way of learning and applying.

    o   School Culture: In the past, schools could allow their culture to grow naturally, today’s schools cannot afford to make culture building a passive endeavor.  A more proactive approach is needed

    o   Life Skills:  There is an increasingly urgent call for more personal and interpersonal skills to be taught in schools.  Sometimes they are called workforce, career-, or college-readiness skills, or social-emotional learning skills, or simply life skills.  Regardless of name, many students are showing up to college, work, parenthood, and life without them.

    ·         Leader in me not new curriculum but a better way of doing things already being done in schools.

    ·         A whole school: the leader in me draws upon the talents of the whole school-all staff members and all students-and optimizes the support of parents and community.


    Chapter 2: How it started – and why

    ·         Seven Habits


    Chapter 3: Teaching the 7 Habits

    ·         Most common way to teach 7 habits is through integrated instruction


    Chapter 4: Creating a Leadership Culture

    ·         What is seen-the physical environment: vision statement and murals, welcoming school grounds. Habits are incorporated into the artwork and physical structure of the buildings

    ·         What is heard- a common language: 7 habits become the common language of a school as a natural outcome of staff members integrating the habits into lessons, using the language in meetings, activities, hallway displays, and assemblies.

    ·         What is felt- the emotional environment: students are more self-confident, teachers lounge is a more positive environment.  School culture is one of inclusivity and respect.

    ·         Shared leadership

    ·         Giving students leadership responsibility

    ·         School culture can help breed leaders



    Chapter 5: Achieving School Goals

    ·         Aligning for results and setting goals together can increase buy in

    ·         Setting wildly important goals, translating goals into meaningful action steps, keeping scoreboards, establishing a cadence of accountability, celebrations.

    ·         Celebrating success intrinsically is better

    ·         Three tools

    o   Leadership notebooks: offers a single location for leadership reflections, and showcase best works.  Most schools use a simple three-ring binder with tabs.

    o   Student led conferences: many schools have migrated to these, where instead of the teacher or parent doing the talking, students lead the discussion.  In the case of the leader in me, students share with parents their WIGs and how they are progressing.  They outline their strengths and steps they can take to improve.

    o   Quality tools: the third tool is a set of tools.  Teachers commonly refer to them as graphic organizers.  They include venn diagrams, bubble maps, plus-delta charts, and lotus diagrams.  They are used to problem-solve, brainstorm ideas, analyze stories, plan projects, set goals, and establish classroom protocol.



    Chapter 6:  Bringing It Home

    ·         Schools and home can work together

    ·         Many ways to teach parents about 7 habits

    o   Letters home

    o   Welcome packets

    o   Newsletters

    o   Website

    o   Students teaching

    o   Transfer of learning

    ·         7 habits are also key actions to conflict resolution

    ·         Home can have a leadership culture

    ·         Use the 7 habits as positive affirmations rather than “whipping sticks”



    Chapter 7: Engaging the Community

    ·         Businesses feel global pressure and perceive shortcomings in upcoming workforce leading to interference or collaboration between business and schools.

    ·         Businesses noticing leadership traits in students who have been in schools with the seven habits



    Chapter 8: Shifting to Secondary and Beyond

    ·         The downward slope that occurs for secondary students is that their zest for school decreases.

    ·         The 7 habits can increase zest by helping students enjoy frequent successes and chances to do what they are best at.

    ·         Strong role models should do initial teaching.  You have to be living them, otherwise teens will sense hypocrisy

    ·         Teaching the 7 habits in all subjects may cause mutiny

    ·         Most effective if you can apply the seven habits to real issues teens are facing



    Chapter 9: Keeping it Alive

    ·         Don’t water down the language

    ·         Do it your way

    Courtesy of Elise Moseley, Sonoma State University Graduate School of Counseling, Spring 2017
    Posted 4/11/2017