Leadership is possibly the number one skill most parents want to see in their children. Why is that? We want the best for our kids but not everyone has to grow up to be the boss and not everyone can be the team captain – and many of us are happy and successful anyway. What leadership skills really teach our children – besides growing up to be boss and being the team captain, some of them – is how to lead by example.
The true leaders are the ones who are the first to step up and offer their hand when someone needs something, the first to speak up when someone is being mistreated, or the first to figure out how to solve a problem. Sure, the kids with leadership skills will be the first to become bosses and politicians and the movers and shakers of the world. But they don’t get that way if they’re afraid to speak up.
Speaking up is what a lot of us are afraid to do though – so how do we make sure our kids develop leadership skills?
- Set an example. Show your kids that you can balance all of your roles. You don’t have to be perfect but the kids won’t notice that the laundry took too long or the dog didn’t get walked or that you left part of your work to-do list undone. The key is to show up to those roles and keep going.
- Encourage teamwork. Kids need to learn to work and play with others. Keeping their interests in mind, sign them up for team sports or extracurricular activities that encourage groups. If they aren’t into sports, look into scouting or school band.
- Negotiate. The art of compromise is key to leadership. When your child asks for something, don’t say “yes” or “no” – make an offer. Let them counter, and so on until you come to an agreement. Even if you would have said yes, this teaches them valuable skills, so try to resist!
- Teach decision-making. As often as possible, give your children two or three choices. If they can’t immediately choose, then help them weigh the pros and cons. This way, they’ll learn how to make informed choices, and they’ll gain the confidence needed to continue to make bigger and bigger decisions.
- Practice communication. Instead of speaking for your children, allow them to do it for themselves. They can order for themselves and ask questions about menu items in restaurants. If there is a problem with their order, they can say so. If they want a toy, they can ask the salesperson. When they’re doing this, teach them active listening skills too. They should make eye contact and affirm what they’ve understood.
Do you want your kids to become leaders? Do you want them to exhibit the fearlessness that only a true leader displays? Use these five tips to make sure you give them the skills they need to become world-changing leaders. Once they’ve got these mastered, they can take over from there!