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The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At a Time Hardcover – November 18, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Recognized as one of Time magazine’s twenty-five most influential Americans, Stephen R. Covey (1932–2012) was an internationally respected leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and author. His books have sold more than 25 million copies in thirty-eight languages, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was named the #1 Most Influential Business Book of the Twentieth Century. After receiving an MBA from Harvard and a doctorate degree from Brigham Young University, he became the cofounder and vice chairman of FranklinCovey, the leading global professional services firm.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


As much as any professional work I have embarked upon, this book comes from my heart. It both thrills and humbles me like you cannot imagine.

It involves today's young people. It involves our future. Whether you are a concerned parent, a professional educator, or a foresighted business leader, I am confident you will find it to be an invigorating breath of fresh air, a reason to celebrate and an inspiring call for action. For what you are about to read unveils a budding trend that is gaining momentum in a growing number of schools across the United States and in various parts of the world. It is an exciting trend -- one that is producing tangible, sustainable results.

From the get-go, I want you to know that I am not the mastermind behind the trend. Rather, credit goes to an expanding community of committed, creative, and caring professional educators who have synergistically joined forces with parents, civic leaders, and business proprietors to bring about a new level of hope in education.

To set the context, let me take you back a few years to what seems like yesterday. In 1989, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was published. Its subtitle was "Restoring the Character Ethic." The book caught a wave that even I had no way of anticipating, particularly in organizational arenas. Today, the 7 Habits are still thriving in boardrooms, government offices, and corporate universities around the globe.

About the same time as the 7 Habits book was launched, I was approached by Chuck Farnsworth, who at the time was superintendent of schools for a progressive district in Indiana. Chuck felt strongly that the 7 Habits had an important role to play in the world of education, and he was passionately determined to lead the charge. He began by taking the habits to school administrators and teachers. To date, nearly a half million professional educators have been trained in the 7 Habits, with many of them being certified as school facilitators.

As we brought the 7 Habits into schools, the focus remained on training adults, not students. That changed in 1998, when my son, Sean, wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Sean had been a Division I college football quarterback, which created frequent opportunities for him to be in front of teen audiences. He developed a sincere interest in young people that eventually propelled him to write the teen version. More than three million teen copies have now been sold, and Student Activity Guides have carried the habits to over a hundred thousand middle and high school students.

In the latter part of 1999, the 7 Habits made another significant entry into schools. During a presentation in Washington, D.C., I was approached by an elementary school principal named Muriel Summers. She wanted to know if I thought the 7 Habits could be taught to young children. I pointed her toward Sean's book, but she came back with the reply that she was referring to very young children -- as young as five years old. I responded, "I don't know why not," and then casually added that if she ever tried to do it to let me know how it went.

This book contains the account of what Muriel and her talented staff initiated following that brief encounter. It is a tremendous story, one that has been simmering, thickening, rippling, and gaining momentum (and even some notoriety) for some time, as the percentage of students achieving end-of-grade targets has gone from 84 to 97 percent and the school has gone from the brink of nearly being terminated as a magnet school to being named the number one magnet school in America. How? With great success they, and now scores of other schools, have been teaching the 7 Habits and other leadership principles to elementary school students -- yes, even five-year-olds. Their approach is unique and may even surprise you. Their intent has not been to prepare students to become CEOs or world leaders, but rather to teach them how to lead their individual lives and how to succeed in the twenty-first century. I believe you will discover in their approach some highly credible and principle-based solutions to some of the most discouraging dilemmas facing schools today.

In approaching the topic of education, I am keenly aware that today's educators are constantly under a microscope and have been the targets of abundant negative press in recent years. Such is not the intent of this book. Rather than being a critic, I prefer to promote the good. I honestly believe that it is difficult to spend time in most any school these days without departing in absolute reverence of some incredible teachers -- noble mentors who have sacrificed much to do what they love and what they believe will make a difference in young lives. To focus only on the negative in education while ignoring what the true heroes are doing would be a tragic act of ingratitude.

Some may view my efforts as self-serving. I acknowledge why some might feel that way, but I am willing to risk that perception because I so strongly believe in what these schools are doing for today's young people. Indeed, it is the profound successes that these schools are having that has inspired Franklin Covey to devote more of its mission toward partnering with schools, businesses, parents, and community leaders to create resources that will better enable young people to prepare for the world that awaits them -- a world that none of us can fully predict. Likewise, it was the successes of these schools that ignited Sean's desire to write his recently released book, The 7 Habits of Happy Kids. Both this book and Sean's book -- along with a whole series of new The Leader in Me resources and website materials -- are vital components in FranklinCovey's effort to do more toward the betterment of societies and young people of all nations.

This book represents the combined efforts of many people. My partner, Boyd Craig, provided visionary leadership and direction to the entire team and project. Dr. David K. Hatch shepherded the research efforts with passion, dedication, and world class character and competence. He took my heart, put data behind it, and helped me transfer it to paper. Their efforts were competently supported by Franklin Covey's Education Solutions team, in particular Sarah Noble, Connie Spencer, Aaron Ashby, Sean Covey, Judy Yauch, Shawn Moon, and Stephanie Calton, and such road-tested consultants as Dr. Nancy Moore, Dr. Jane Knight, Gary McGuey, and Lonnie Moore, as well as Dr. Craig Pace and Dr. Dean Collinwood, who conducted early research for the book. Others such as Victoria Marrott contributed significant administrative support. The rest of my office team -- Julie Gillman, Chelsea Johns, and Darla Salin -- provide constant support to all of my work. More important, well over a hundred teachers, school superintendents, principals, parents, professors, and school board members volunteered extensive input and rigorous review of the work. Their practical, tried-and-refined insights substantiate each page. My heartfelt gratitude extends to all who participated.

To gain a quick overview of what this book entails, I suggest that you skim through it from front to back while looking at the pictures and reading their captions. I also recommend that you visit TheLeaderInMeBook.org online to view video clips of schools and activities spoken of in this book.

As you view the various resources and traverse the pages of this book, I hope you feel my deep, personal commitment, and behind it all my firm belief in the potential of today's young people. As a grandparent, I am delighted with the possibilities this book may create for my grandchildren, their children, and eventually their children's children. I think nothing but the highest of them and want nothing short of the best for them. Likewise, as a global citizen, I feel a vested interest in the progress, well-being, and happiness of all young people. They are the society and hope of the future -- our future -- and I firmly desire that future to be in good hands. Finally, as a business executive, I want to be able to look into the eyes of today's young people and see a vibrant coming workforce, a pool of future leaders who are well prepared for the challenges that we all know lie ahead.

Indeed, it is my sincerest hope that this book will somehow spread its figurative wings and soar with a reach that will truly make a difference in the lives of young people the world over -- now and for generations to come.

Stephen R. Covey
Provo, Utah
TheLeaderInMeBook.org Copyright © 2008 by FranklinCovey Co. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439103267
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439103265
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #271,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen R. Covey is a renowned leadership authority, family expert, teacher, organizational consultant, and co-founder of FranklinCovey Co. He is author of several international bestsellers, including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which has sold over 20 million copies. He was named one of TIME Magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans. Dr. Covey holds the Jon M. Huntsman Presidential Chair in Leadership at the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By M. Lang on January 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book caught my eye because I have been looking at how education will change to deal with the increasing need for more creativity and innovation within all employees in the future. This book provides a good overview of some changes tried by a number of primarily elementary schools that I did not know about, so it fulfills my need. However, it is primarily an overview. One looking for more of a how to do it will be disappointed.

Basically, the book tells the story of how, in particular, A.C. Combs Elementary School has adopted the seven habits as a kind of value set underlying the traditional curriculum across the school. Other schools are also cited, but with much less detail. Students have done very well, even on the standardized exams that are so important to schools today. In my experience this emphasis on underlying values is one key to a new generation of education, so this material validated what I have been seeing and provided other reinforcing models. (The idea of values is not "being good" but rather a way of life that brings success.) The seven habits do provide a good basis for leadership, and I am now considering how they can add to the initiatives I am doing. However, our focus on creativity and innovation means we use other values that reach beyond the seven habits, primarily think-team-trust. This does not detract from the value of the stories told here to stimulate more thinking about the ideal next generation of education for the 21st Century.

Note that Covey's company apparently now has a large business in providing materials and training for education activities such as those cited in the book. One could perceive this book as a sales pitch.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alana on January 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you, as a parent, teacher, or mentor, are interested in fostering your child's growth in every aspect, then this book is incredibly helpful in doing so. The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World Are Inspiring Greatness, One Child At a Time has real-life examples of case studies, such as the focus on A.B. Combs Elementary with over 800 students who represent 58 countries and 27 languages. With the strategy of "Developing Leaders One Child at a Time" they based their principles in both the 7 Habits and the Baldrige Program (see: [...] In this book there are implementable ideas for not only teachers and programs of involvement and leadership for children, but ways as a parent you could come up with similar practices at home and with the family doing outreach and community projects.

In the "Aligning for Success" chapter, you find practices taught to the children and many acronyms for education. If you read Malcolm Gladwell's most recent book Outliers: The Story of Success some of these things will sound familiar to you already. In the "Unleashing a Culture of Leadership" chapter, you'll see some ideas of traditions to incorporate, like: Leadership Day, Inaugural Ball, International Festival, Silver-Tray Luncheon, Service Projects and Celebrate Success Day. There are, of course, a lot of evidence from other schools who incorporate the 7 Habits into their curriculum and the stats provided, and a lot of talk about the 7 Habits.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With THE LEADER IN ME, audience is everything. Obviously it's pitched toward schools in search of an ethics program, but parents might find it of interest as well. Still, to my mind, the book's true target audience is the elementary school crowd. As over half of the book is devoted to elementary school case studies in general and the A.B. Combs Elementary School of North Carolina in particular, principals, teachers, and parents of elementary students will glean the most from this book. Yes, there are examples of middle and high schools thrown in -- but they're just that: "thrown in" to prove the universal appeal of the 7 Habits.

Speaking of, the 7 Habits are the foundation of the book (and, it would appear by the frequent plugs to a 7 Habits website, an entire industry). Covey encourages students to 1.) Be Proactive, 2.) Begin with the End in Mind, 3.) Put First Things First, 4.) Think Win-Win, 5.) Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood, 6.) Synergize, and 7.) Sharpen the Saw. Ample explanations (in layman's terms) and examples are provided. Covey takes care to map out an approach, complete with suggestions and cautionary tales. It's all good, but part of me was wary of the "training" which involved contacting the 7 Habits "people" (operators are now standing by).

Still, I like the message of the habits and am convinced that, with all hands on deck and complete acceptance by a willing school, this program could really turn an elementary school around. It is a positive and affirming approach -- one that all in education know works -- so there's much to be said for embracing it. Perhaps it could be done without the training? You decide. If you're researching approaches that can instill respect and responsibility in your school, reading this treatise on how schools can rally round the banner of "leadership" should be, at the very least, part of your research.
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