Leader in Me, at a Glance

What is Leader in Me?

Leader in Me can be defined as a whole-school transformation process or program that teaches students 21st-century leadership and life skills. Leader in Me focuses on empowering students so that every child has the potential to be a leader.

The program developed out of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It also incorporates Baldrige Quality Tools among other educational best practices.

Since officially launching in 2009, the Leader in Me program has been adopted by over 3,000 schools in 50 countries. The program is produced by Franklin Covey Education, one of the most prominent and trusted global providers of educational leadership programs. Franklin Covey Education mission is enabling greatness in students, educators as well as schools globally.

learning about sundials
Photo: older students sharing their knowledge.

The Program’s Focus

Leader in Me focuses on providing schools with a balanced, sequential and logical process that helps to proactively design a school culture that reflects the vision.

The program is aligned with the best-in-class content and concepts exercised by global education thought leaders. The program helps students reach their full potential by teaching:

  • leadership,
  • responsibility,
  • accountability,
  • adaptability,
  • problem-solving,
  • communication,
  • creativity,
  • initiative,
  • cross-cultural skills,
  • and teamwork.

It's worth noting that the program is aligned to the highest academic standards in every respect. The program, therefore, equips students with all the skills they need to succeed academically in any setting.

photo of students working together at school
Photo: students learning about collaborating.

The skills range from goal setting and critical thinking to listening, speaking, presentation and self-directed learning skills.

The Leader in Me Difference

The program works so well because it helps students tap into their true potential by shifting traditional paradigms. For instance, the program's model of leadership sees a leader in everyone as opposed to the kind of thinking that some kids are born leaders.

Below are examples of Leader in Me paradigms in summary:

  • Paradigm of Leadership: Everyone can be a leader
  • Paradigm of Potential: Everyone is a genius
  • Paradigm of Change: Change starts with me
  • Paradigm of Motivation: Educators empower students to learn.

(A paradigm is broadly defined as a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind.)

Educators Don’t Control Students

A Paradigm of Education: Education isn’t just meant for academic achievement but the development of the whole person.

Top benefits of Leader in Me: Why does the program work so well?

There are many reasons why Leader in Me’s leadership model works better than most reform initiatives available today.

The most notable reasons are discussed below.

1. The program uses a different paradigm

As mentioned above, the program embodies a different paradigm that is outside the norm. For instance, the program emphasizes that all people are intelligent and can continue to grow in their intelligence. When kids believe that they can be intelligent, and they have control over their intelligence, they start to feel motivated to do the work to develop their brains.

Teaching training for Leader in Me Initiative at Superior North Catholic District School Board
Photo: Teaching training for Leader in Me

2. The program tackles everything from the inside out

Leader in Me is also a unique initiative because it first focusses on introducing a different mindset for teachers and other adults who the children interact with at school. This approach is useful because we can’t expect students to change before we see ourselves in a different way.

In a nutshell, the program doesn’t just focus on students. Leader in Me focuses on adults because their character plays a crucial role in the accomplishments of the children around them.

Leader in Me targets teachers first, among other school staff, before working with students.

3. Leader in Me uses a common language

A picture of a young student on his first day of school at St. Joseph Catholic School, 2016.
Photo: A happy student on his first day at Saint Joseph Catholic School.

The program is inspired by the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people in a language that everyone can understand.

For instance, kids have their interpretation dubbed the 7 Habits of Happy Kids.

  • Habit 1 in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people is being proactive is taught as ''You are in Charge'' to kids.
  • Habit 2 which is Beginning something with the end in mind is taught as Have a Plan.
  • Habit 3 which is Put First Things First is taught as Work First then Play.
  • Habit 4 which is Think Win-Win is taught as Everyone can Win.
  • Habit 5 which is Seek to understand first, then to be understood is taught as Listen Before you Talk.
  • Habit 6 which is Synergize is taught as Together is Better.
  • Habit 7 which is Sharpen the Saw is taught as Balance feels Best.

By using a common language to teach everyone, Leader in Me is more effective since everyone has a shared vocabulary and understanding.

4. Leader in Me can be implemented anywhere

The program isn’t an event or a class scheduled every week. It’s more of a universal leadership development program which simply means it applies everywhere at all times.

children playing hockey
Photo: Leadership learning experiences are used inside and outside of school.

The program is integrated into everything so it impacts everything from the organization, traditions, and culture of a school to the instructional methods and curriculum. Furthermore, the application is universal.

5. Implementation is thorough

Leader in Me also stands out for its comprehensive implementation. Unlike other similar programs which take a few weeks to implement, Leader in Me takes years to implement.

Schools which take up the program partner with Franklin Covey to implement the program’s paradigms and practices via professional development, coaching as well as resources in the initial three years. Schools can then continue accessing resources and coaching.

Franklin Covey utilizes its network of consultants to deliver transformational professional development. School staff members learn about making leadership development part of the daily student experience in school.

Teachers learn to:

  • create a culture of leadership, 
  • include leadership principles in their teaching, 
  • help their students take ownership of their goals, 
  • academic learning, etc.

Besides on-site coaching, the program is also implemented via community coaching. This kind of implementation guarantees real behavioural change because all school staff members start by developing a deep capacity to implement the program. The implementation is also effective because it combines new learning with feedback as well as reflection.

6. The program comes with adequate resources

The program also works so well because it is backed by adequate resources available annually. The program itself is inspired by world-class content such as: 7 Habits by Stephen Covey, The 4 Roles of Leadership, and The 4 Disciplines of Execution, among other resources available in web-based formats, videos, student curriculum, classroom and home materials etc.

7. The program has been tested and proven

Measured outcomes indicate that Leader in Me is indeed effective. For instance, a 2014 ROI Institute, Inc. study focusing on two school districts found out that 90% of the students in the study agreed that they acquired new leadership knowledge and skills after going through the program.

The same study also indicated that 87% of the teachers agreed that the program gave them new leadership skills and knowledge to empower their students.

The program is proven to work.

Initiative Contact: Kerry Desjardins