Creating Leadership Schools

Banyan Strategics serves Community K-12 schools seeking high performance student academic and Leadership outcomes.

Every school is composed of 2 elements:

  1. The Academic philosophy chosen as the instructional model carefully chosen for the students
  2. The Culture of the school.

In most schools, the Culture is a passive result of the social combination of the students and faculty. Banyan Strategics believes that the Culture of a school is as important as the Academic model because it impacts the character and values of every student, not just the academically gifted, throughout their life.

A Culture must be mindfully formed and reinforced to be effective. Banyan’s Leadership Schools create consistent leadership-based Cultures by focusing on the elements of a successful Culture:

  1. A common language
  2. Engagement by faculty and students
  3. Consistent modeling by everyone in the organization

It is done by carefully integrating 2 proven Leadership approaches: Gallup’s Strengths-based and Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People models.

Our schools teach timeless, universal, self-evident Principles of Leadership. We understand that that true leaders can see the worth and potential of an individual and can communicate it clearly so that he or she is inspired to see it themselves. We do this by teaching and practicing Gallup and Covey principles at each level of the school; Board of Directors, faculty, staff, students and parents when possible. We strive to assure “there is a teacher in every classroom who cares that every student, every day, learns and grows and feels like a real human being.” (Donald O Clifton, Strengths concept founder)

Gallup’s Model

The primary focus of every school should be to prepare the students to function successfully in life. Society holds several assumptions about success. Many people teach and believe that success comes by behaviors or techniques that are learned, or if you want it badly enough you can have it and if you dream it, you can achieve it. They have the assumption that if you follow the “right” path you will succeed and that those who succeed have followed particular steps. Most also have the idea that if you fix your weaknesses you will be more successful.

Banyan Strategics has chosen another model that has shown logical and validated results. Gallup’s Strengths research has shown that there is a different path to success:

  1. Some behaviors can be learned, but many are impossible to learn.
  2. The “best” in roles can deliver the same outcomes, but they use different methods to get there.
  3. Trying to “fix” our weaknesses only prevents failure.
  4. Building upon our natural Talents leads to success.
  5. A Strength will develop by adding Knowledge and Skill to a Talent.

Common Language

This Strengths-based approach enables our adult leaders and students to understand and appreciate their unique Talents. Gallup identifies 34 different Talents that every adult has and by understanding each and using them appropriately, a common language or vocabulary can be created. The teachers and students learn to honor and respect Talents and Strengths in others that are different than their own. Our teachers watch for the Talents in their students and speak of them to the students. They are then able to help the students develop those Talents into Strengths and work with other students with complementary Talents and facilitate a win-win outcome for all involved.

Our teachers and staff know their top Talents by taking an online assessment provided by Gallup. This enables the teacher to understand themselves and better engage each child emotionally on a daily basis. Our teachers learn to understand what stimulates and motivates each student so they can encourage growth through their Talents and relationship they have with that student.


Engagement is a voluntary choice to work with heartfelt effort to achieve the Mission and goals of the organization. A different world cannot be built by indifferent people, a Strengths-based school must begin with immensely talented, deeply committed, engaged individuals who are given the opportunity to do what they do best every day. Their engagement is infectious, and others learn the satisfaction and rewards of being engaged.

Modeling Consistently to Maintain Culture

Teachers and administrators know that to be the best in the world they need to be ‘really good’ at nourishing those for whom they have a responsibility by practicing a Servant/Leader role. Reaching this point requires that all team members are committed to excellence for themselves and those around them. By practicing and reinforcing these successful principles, on a daily basis the Culture is maintained and becomes a natural way of behaving for everyone in the school.

Covey’s Model

In 1989, Stephen Covey wrote the highly influential book for corporations: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It was an instant success and influenced companies all over the world.

In 1999, an elementary Principal, Muriel Summers, from Durham, NC, attended a seminar and asked Dr. Covey if he thought the Habits would work for 5-year-olds. He replied that he didn’t see why not and let him know how it turned out. It turned out to be very successful and in 2008, Dr. Covey wrote about the results in the book “Leader in Me”.

The 7 Habits are:

  1. Be Proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Putting First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek to Understand before You Seek to be Understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

These Habits or skills require the same elements as Gallup’s model:

  1. A common language
  2. Engagement
  3. Consistent modeling by everyone in the organization

Common Language

By learning the 7 Habits and using the appropriate vocabulary that conveys the principles, the Culture will be embed deeply into the school and the students. It is amazing how young students, even some pre-schoolers, can understand and use the Habits when speaking to each other and making decisions


Engagement begins when the experiences we are having are fun, and we find they can be helpful to us. The teachers use the 7 Habits in their lesson plans by showing the students how they apply to the stories. Then the students practice identifying and using the Habits in their lives. For example, a child can use the 3rd Habit, First Things First, by deciding to do homework before playing.

The more the student understands and practices the Habits the more valuable and applicable they become so engagement increases.

Consistent Modeling

It begins with the teachers and administration conscientiously teaching the students the timeless principles and helping the students to apply them. Each class and each grade can and must use the same vocabulary and watch for students who are comprehending and the few who are not. Often a mentor system is used because students often learn more effectively from each other.


It normally takes about three years to fully implement these 2 Leadership models into a school. Excellent results occur almost immediately but to truly create a Culture that is long lasting and pervasive it takes time and experience.

“Culture is a combination of Communication and Tradition’” –Jonathan Catherman, Covey trainer

By introducing and implementing the Leadership models we can assure that the administration, teachers, students, and parents will all be benefited.

  1. Improved student achievement
  2. Significantly enhanced self-confidence and esteem in students
  3. Bullying and referrals to the Principal diminish greatly because the students take on the responsibility for their behavior and assist others to interact by following successful principles.
  4. Impressive increases in teachers’, administrators’ and students engagement because the process of learning and true education occurs.
  5. Students plan and execute innovative and valuable projects which help the school and community.
  6. Students take on many of the duties that teachers traditionally have done which frees up the teachers to focus on doing the things they do best.
  7. Business and community leaders want to lend support
  8. Parents are delighted and engaged with their child’s learning experiences

” …educators use an integrated approach and make leadership training part of everything they do. So the model impacts everything—the traditions, events, organization, culture, instructional methodologies, and curriculum of the school.  But as teachers will tell you, “It’s not doing one more thing; it’s doing what you’re already doing in a better way.” – Leader in Me