When it comes to raising leaders, are they born or can you as a parent raise them to become someone that people look to as a leader?
It’s an age-old discussion, but I’ve decided after some research, that the evidence leans heavily toward the conclusion that leaders can be made.
Dr. William A. Cohen, president of the Institute of Leader Arts, concludes that effectiveness as a leader depends “less on some innate trait that you are born with, and much more on specific principles that anyone can follow.” He lists those principles as integrity, commitment, a positive attitude, competency, good communication, selflessness, and a willingness to set an example.
If that is true, can we then teach our kids how to be leaders by teaching them to live by those principles?
“Wait,” you may say, “I know kids who are natural born leaders.” Take another look. You may know kids who are strong-willed, outgoing, aggressive, opinionated, kids who get the attention, and may even influence others. But does that make them leaders?
Leadership is more than about being loud and getting noticed. It is about BEING a person that others respect and want to follow.
Who your children become depends largely on how they are raised. You can shape tomorrow’s leaders by teaching leadership traits and skills to your children.
Here’s how you can help your child grow into a leader:
Look for positive traits and affirm them. When your child exhibits traits such as honesty, boldness, problem-solving, courage, people skills, passion, and good communication, take notice and give him positive feedback.
Start when your kids are young. The most influential leadership training in a child’s life comes from parents simply being the type of person they want their kids to be, modeling the leadership traits you want them to learn.
Build their self-confidence. This also starts at home when your children are very young. Kids gain confidence when they feel love and security. It continues to grow as they get older and have opportunities to learn, grow and succeed.
Teach them to make decisions and solve problems. Give your child the opportunity to make decisions and solve problems for himself. Start with age-appropriate decisions when they are little. As they grow up, so should the importance of their decisions, allowing them to learn about responsibility and consequences.
Emphasize teamwork. Since leadership is the ability to achieve goals through people; it’s not just about ME, but about US. Leaders don’t just focus on their own effort, but on how to inspire and motivate a team to achieve goals. Playing sports offers a great opportunity to develop this skill.
Focus more on kids’ character traits than on their personality traits. In other words, look inside at who they really are, not outside on how timid or aggressive they seem. Strive to discover and point out their hidden talents and abilities. Encourage them to use those talents and skills through leadership.
Encourage their dreams. Let them develop a plan based on their dreams, take action on that plan, measure progress, and celebrate the victories along the way.
Help them communicate. Teach them how to confront people, how to express their feelings and beliefs, how to ask questions, and even how to conduct themselves in front of a group. Explain that words have great power to either lead or mislead people. Train them to use words carefully.
Teach them to manage money...and other things, like time and resources. Being able to manage money, on a personal level as well as on a business level, is important for leaders. Give them an allowance and eventually a bank account and help them make decisions on how to spend and save.
Show them people skills, like respect for authority, gratitude, listening, delegating, fairness, hospitality, and the ability to negotiate. Let kids know that it doesn’t take much effort – sometimes just a positive word or a handshake – to change people’s lives.
Our world needs positive leaders, and you can help shape tomorrow by starting right in your home.
If you’d like some tools to give you confidence in your parenting, schedule a free intro call here.