I would like to recommend a book for administrators, teachers, students, and parents to read. Stephen Covey has recently published The Leader in Me. This book describes the work of schools across the world to implement the leadership skills that originated from Covey's well known book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book also helped me connect the habits with the seven categories of the Baldrige National Quality Award criteria. This was of interest to me since our school system has worked to deploy the Baldrige criteria for over 6 years and was recently recognized as the 2008 Baldrige recipient for education.
In The Leader in Me, Covey focuses on a school in Raleigh, North Carolina. A.B. Combs Elementary has been implementing the Seven Habits as a magnet school since 2000. Also, AB Combs utilizes Baldrige and quality tools in the school. What is interesting is the well documented results that AB Combs has achieved over the last 8 years and how many schools across the nation are implementing the Seven Habits and Baldrige principles and tools. The Seven Habits are closely aligned to the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. For example;
Habit 1 - Be proactive - is aligned to the Baldrige Core Values in that being proactive encourages students and staff alike to take responsibility for their actions and behaviors and not look to blame others.
Habit 2 - Begin with the end in mind is closely aligned to the Baldrige items that require a vision, mission, and values.
Habit 3 - Put First Things First encourages alignment and focusing on what is important in deploying plans.
Habit 4 - Think Win-Win - reveals how important it is to look for what others are interested in and look for alternatives. Baldrige focus on stakeholders and core value of innovation are very similar to this habit.
Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand and then be Understood is all about processes, workforce relations, and focus on stakeholder needs which are Baldrige items.
Habit 6 - Synergize is all about learning from others and utilizing teaming to meet higher levels of performance. VERY MUCH a Baldrige principle.
Habit 7 - Sharpen the saw is about professional and personal development which are items closely realted to the Baldrige workforce and leadership items
Bottom line is that Covey's work and the Baldrige principles and tools are very closely related and compliment each other. Many schools and districts have not fully realized the potential of the Seven Habits or the Baldrige toools. They do not recognize the connections between the habits and tools with professional learning communities, common formative assessments, student data notebooks, and classroom PDSA's. These tools are really about creating the "leaders" within each of us. I strongly recommend this book and hope that many teachers and principals will identify what they can do to create the "leader within me."