“Don’t ever think you’ve arrived; keep working hard!”– Frank Henderson

Those poignant words uttered by Sean Covey’s coach during his time as a quarterback, still remain with him today. It could be said that they form a part of his philosophy as it relates to his relentless work ethic.

Sean Covey is very ambitious, industrious and driven.

Following his college football career, Sean earned his first degree in English from Brigham Young University. He later went on to complete his MBA at Harvard Business School.

Originally from Ireland, Sean currently resides in the Rocky Mountains in the United States with his wife and children.

He is the Executive Vice President at FranklinCovey where he leads their international operations in 150 countries. He is also responsible for leading Research and Development efforts and he serves as the practice Leader for FranklinCovey’s Education business.

Sean is the author of several successful books including The 7 Habits of Happy Kids, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, which has been translated in over 30 languages and has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide.

Name two teachers who were instrumental in grooming you for success.

The two most influential teachers in my life were Miss Muir, my middle school speech teacher, and Mr. Henderson, my high school football coach. Miss Muir was my teacher during my 7th grade year. I was a shy kid and was struggling in many ways. She repeatedly told me that I was a great speaker and that she believed in my potential. She made a huge difference in my life at a very pivotal stage.

My football coach, Frank Henderson also made a huge difference. He taught me how to be tough, how to lead, how to overcome mistakes and so much more. He would always tell me to “Never assume anything,” and “Don’t ever think you’ve arrived; keep working hard!” and “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” He recognised my talent and helped me to develop it and outside of my parents and family, he was probably the most influential person in my life.

Name two key benefits of ‘The Leader in Me’ programme for educators.

The Leader in Me is a whole-school transformation model that acts like the operating system of a computer – it improves the performance of all other programmes. Based on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me equips students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive in the 21st-century economy.

What would be possible if your school were filled with students who were responsible, who showed initiative, who were creative, who knew how to set goals and meet them, who got along with people of various backgrounds and cultures, and who could resolve conflicts and solve problems?

This is reality at The Leader in Me schools across the world. It started in 1999 when a struggling school in North Carolina, A.B. Combs Elementary, was asked to reinvent itself or be shut down. When principal Muriel Summers asked parents and business leaders what they wanted in their schools, she heard the following:

  • Leadership
  • Accountability
  • Adaptability
  • Initiative and Self-Direction
  • Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Responsibility
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Teamwork

This feedback represents what most people believe — that our schools should not merely be focused on improving test scores, but should provide opportunities for students to develop their full potential. As Muriel searched for answers, she attended a 7 Habits workshop and noticed how comprehensive the habits were in covering the same needs expressed by her community. She and her staff developed a leadership theme and a school mission statement: To Develop Leaders, One Child at a Time. They taught the 7 Habits not as a curriculum, but in a ubiquitous fashion, integrating them into the curriculum, traditions, systems, and culture of A.B. Combs.

In 2006, A.B. Combs became the #1 magnet school in the country. The leadership model began to be replicated by other schools with similar results. In 2008, Dr. Stephen R. Covey published the book The Leader in Me, which documents the leadership model these schools pioneered and its outcomes for staff, students, parents, and the community. Today, more than 2,000 schools across 25 countries are seeing great results by implementing The Leader in Me.

Two of the great benefits for educators in The Leader in Me are:

  1. It contains world-class professional development for all the educators in the school. The programme is as much about the adults in the school as it is about the students.
  2. It will help create an empowered, collaborative, and engaged culture that leads to improved student behaviour and subsequent teaching effectiveness.
What are two vital strategies that educators can use to assist students in 
taking responsibility for their learning?

Strategy 1. Give students leadership roles and responsibilities inside of the school. for example, they could be assigned to be a classroom greeter, or playground monitor, a school tour guide, a morning announcement leader, or an A/V leader. Interchange these roles from time to time. Let students apply for positions or invent positions of their own. Everyone in the school has a leadership responsibility.

Strategy 2. Teach students how to set and achieve personal and academic goals. Have them track their progress in a data notebook. Students are able to assess how they are doing on their academic goals at any time and they account for these during student-led conferences with parents.

Suggest one thing that teachers who feel overworked and overwhelmed can do to rediscover their voice?

Remember why they went into education in the first place. Most educators went into the profession because of their passion for making a difference in the lives of students. Remember that you are teaching a whole child – body, heart, mind and spirit. There is more to education than doing well on a standardized test.

What philosophy do you use to guide some of the key business 
decisions that you make?

My philosophy is, business consists of a few things. First, never do anything that you would regret when you’re on your deathbed. Second, treat everyone with great respect so that you never make enemies. And third, strive to live the 7 Habits in all your interactions.

What is your favourite country to travel to and why?

I love visiting Asia. I enjoy seeing the growth and development of many developing countries in Asia, such as Indonesia and Vietnam. I am fascinated by the entrepreneurial spirit I feel in India and the incredible infrastructure which China has developed.

What is one of your proudest achievements to date?

One of my proudest achievements is the establishment of Bridle Up Hope: The Rachel Covey Foundation. My wife and I started it after the death of our 21-year-old daughter, Rachel. The mission of the foundation is to help young women achieve hope and confidence through equestrian training. We target young women, ages 12-25, who are suffering from anxiety, depression, or low self- esteem, and have them go through a 13-week program where they learn to care for and ride horses, learn life skills through the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and learn to serve by volunteering at the barn. It is consistently transforming girls of all backgrounds and opening back up that door of hope. It is fast becoming a global foundation and is on its way to influencing tens of thousands of young women. We are hoping to open a few Bridle Up Hope satellite locations in the Middle East and are looking for interested parties.

 

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