We live in a world where powerful leaders are capable of accomplishing great things. No one is born a leader – it’s something that people of worthy character grow to be through their experiences. Everyone deserves to be equipped with the leadership skills they need to make a positive impact in the world. Your children are never too young to learn the foundations of what leadership means.
Here are six ways to develop leadership skills in your children:
1. Increase Access to Information
Many parents feel the need to shelter their children, or censor them from a lot of things. Rather than cutting off access to that information, try to explain it in an age-appropriate way. If there’s a troubling issue happening in the world, allowing your child to see that and understand why an issue is troubling may inspire innovative thinking. Children are the heroes of the future, and you can’t lead the world without that kind of brainpower.
2. Allow Your Authority to Be Questioned
This may feel counterintuitive, but it may be the best thing for your household. Rather than relying on the failsafe “because I said so” response, explain why. Allow your child to ask further questions and barter. Their bartering points won’t always work, but allow them to win these debates when there isn’t much at stake. This will teach your child to negotiate, which is a crucial skill for a leader.
3. Inspire Your Children to Work with Teams
Group activities allow children to understand how a hierarchy works, particularly if roles within these groups shift. Perhaps every child has a turn to choose the activity for team playdates. Children are most likely to select something they feel they’re good at. Everyone will have a chance to learn, and everyone will have a chance to teach. Good leaders need to be willing to learn from others.
4. Teach Your Children to Accept Losses
The line between a leader and a bully is much finer than you may think. Bullies, or pushy people, are often unwilling to accept losses. Leaders learn from losses and apply that knowledge to their next attempt. This is how they gain strength and build momentum. When your children lose, don’t allow them to overreact. Tell them that someone has to lose every time, and it’s how that loser proceeds that determines the strength of their character.
“Leaders learn from losses and apply that knowledge to their next attempt.” -Jane Thompson
5. Empower Your Children
Give your children the ability to make choices for themselves. This may mean allowing them to make mistakes from time to time. If your middle schooler has to both sweep and mop the living room, it’s obvious to you the order in which those things should be done. Sometimes, you should let the child mop first and figure out how to deal with the aftermath. Don’t scold the child. Encourage him to figure out solutions to the problem and build a better strategy. Leaders need to be able to strategize on a moment’s notice. This is a skill that has to be learned.
6. Allow Your Children to be Independent
Leaders find motivation within themselves. They’re able to identify goals and work toward them. Rather than helping your child with everything, offer limited assistance. Give your child time to figure things out. Let your children make their own breakfast, or do their own laundry. They’ll begin to take initiative and create a routine that keeps things running smoothly. Leaders need to be organized and forward thinking, and these skills can be developed in the home.
Leadership Tip: to develop others, offer limited assistance to encourage initiative.
Your greatest responsibility as a parent is to prepare your children for what the future has in store for them. The more prepared they are when they graduate, the less time they’ll need to wait before they start their lives. They’ll thank you for helping them hone their leadership skills as soon as they land their dream job.