I’ve been involved in education for almost 30 years and have seen many initiatives arrive with huge promise only to fizzle out and completely disappear a few years later. The first Leader in Me school was started by headteacher Muriel Summers in 1999 and now there are over 4000 Leader in Me schools in more than fifty countries. Why has the Leader in Me process stayed whilst other programmes have gone, and what are the reasons it has grown so exponentially worldwide?
Leader in Me has become a constant in education because it is based on principles and values that are understood in every corner of the globe. It provides a process that is ongoing and sustainable to improve measurable results in the areas such as culture, leadership and academics.
7 Reasons why Leader in Me is so viable:
1. Firstly, it’s the motive behind the Leader in Me process that makes it so powerful. At its heart, the motive is to release human potential with all children and adults within a school. Its message is clear for children; I am loved, I am important, I can do it, I am a leader and I am supported. Its message for teachers is focused; I am a leader, I can contribute, I have the skills to make a difference, I am valued and I am part of a collaborative team. All this builds a culture of trust where people can be themselves, share their feelings, be respected, and contribute to their full potential.
2. Embedded within the 7 Habits and the Leader in Me are paradigms that challenge the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. Opposed to making the mistake of trying to change behaviours, the paradigms work at a much deeper level shifting internalised beliefs that are causing poor behaviours or choices. Once we see things differently, we open new doors to alternative routes and get better results. When we focus on behaviours, we can make small short-term improvements that are guided by extrinsic motivation. But, when we focus on changing our paradigms we can experience quantum breakthroughs that we are intrinsically motivated to sustain.
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published in 1989 and has sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages worldwide, and the audio version has sold 1.5 million copies, and remains one of the best-selling nonfiction leadership books in history. In August 2011 Time listed 7 Habits as one of “The 25 Most Influential Leadership Management Books” It has stood the test of time, because the 7 Habits have revolutionised behavioural sciences, it gives us a mind set and skillset to practise daily for personal and interpersonal effectiveness. These empowering behavioural approaches are leveraged by the powerful paradigms. The 7 sequential habits create a window interface that makes human effectiveness accessible to everyone. That’s why very young children can even apply them and get immediate results. The power of the 7 Habits is that once we understand them, we begin to apply them to everything we do with superior results.
4. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is the second text used in the Leader in Me to drive academic attainment and leadership skills. 4DX is simplicity on the far side of complexity because it provides four compelling steps for achieving our most important goals. At its core 4DX unleashes intrinsic motivation within children to take charge of their own learning, personal goals, and achievements. 4DX is applied at school to also achieve class goals, grade-level goals, department goals and school-wide goals. 4DX impressively aligns all these goals to each other with the central mission of helping every child achieve their wildly important goals.
5. The 7 Habits is an inside-out approach – meaning that we must first work on our own character (personal effectiveness precedes effectiveness with others). It is only once we have done the work on ourselves, that we will have the moral character required to develop the socio-emotional skills that are needed to be effective with others. By applying the inside-out approach of working on our character first, we can grow strong roots that will enable us to withstand the storms and temptations of life. We are focused on who we are, not on a public image of what we want others to think of us. Character is strength and power – it moves us from being a victim of our circumstances to taking responsibility for creating the life we want. The inside-out approach makes us more resilient and we are able to pick ourselves up again after we fall, navigate through challenging moments and keep going.
6. All staff and pupils are encouraged to use the 7 Habits and 4DX language with fidelity within school life. This creates a common language with shared goals. This uniformity creates a harmonious environment, where everyone clearly understands each other. Pupils and staff can’t consistently use a common language without it impacting the way they think, and once this happens it affects the decisions and choices they make. It is the key to self-regulation. The process gives us a language and framework to build effective self-regulation and socio-emotional skills, that drive intrinsic achievement that is purposeful and meaningful to everyone.
7. The Leader in Me is truly global. I can go on holiday to almost any country in the world and visit a Leader in Me school. It is fascinating to see how the process works in such diverse cultures as Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, China, Jordan, Canada, Norway and Holland. The opportunities to develop global citizenship programmes that value cultural differences and diversity are limitless.
Embrace it, Leader in Me is here to stay, to develop Life-Ready Leaders by helping our children to find their voice!
United Education Group