Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today's Glimpse at Tomorrow's Leaders

"Leadership is communicating a person's worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves." -- Stephen R. Covey

Today, I had the opportunity to attend an outstanding leadership event. In my line of work, it is not unusual to attend such functions, but this one was dramatically different -- and a definite first for me. Leadership events hosted by local business owners, community and professional organizations, and local colleges are usually facilitated by proven professionals who often have many years of practical, hands-on experience -- and most are pretty good and well worth the investment of time and effort. However, what I saw today, was a wonderful and unexpectedly insightful display of leadership skill and application from an entirely new crop of young leaders -- 5th and 6th grade leaders to be exact.

When I was invited to attend the Leadership Day program at Cooper Upper Elementary School, in the Livonia, Michigan school district, I expected to see the results of a class project or study module that the involved children were learning about. What I saw however, went far beyond my expectations, and I would guess those of many other adults and professionals in attendance. These young people were not merely learning "about" leadership, they were learning to be engaged "in" the leadership process -- an important distinction that became more and more evident throughout the day. Of course, having a granddaughter involved in the program was especially sweet and gratifying.

At this point, I have to truly acknowledge the faculty and staff who had the insight and the determination to bring The Leader in Me process to Cooper School and most importantly, its young students. Based on Stephen Covey's groundbreaking book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Leader in Me process is having a real, and I would presume, lasting effect on the development of these 21st century leaders of tomorrow. In fact, I would recommend visiting The Cooper Leaders blog on a regular basis to get a better idea of what these students and their mentors are accomplishing. Go to: -- and be sure to leave some positive and uplifting comments to show your support.

Taking on The 7 Habits is not an easy task. Any adult who has picked up Covey's book can attest to that fact. However, these children have made a serious commitment to making them part of their lives and their culture. And, the results show. Shake hands with one of these young people and you'll see the confidence to look you in the eye and the poise to speak directly to you and with you. Ask them about a famous role model or leadership mentor and you'll get an explanation and expository that will most likely have you reaching for your history books. Ask them how the habits have helped them in their daily lives and you'll hear about teamwork, conflict resolution, and a steadfast commitment to never give up on one another. I think there are a number of boardrooms across the country that could benefit from seeing and hearing how these young leaders view their world. There is no doubt that they taught me to never underestimate the ability and the power these young folks have to make a difference in our world.

I look forward to seeing more and to supporting the program in any way I can -- and I hope you'll do the same. As their motto says: "Cooper Leaders Light the Way". Lead on Cooper students!