Leadership Development: Leadership Begins at Home
P arents are the earliest and most influential influences on a child. Their examples profoundly affect the kind of leaders they become. Leadership training takes time (think quantity not just "quality") and guidance in every facet of a child’s life from early on. Additionally, leadership needs to be modeled by the parents. It helps if you view all of this in the long-term. The big picture view assists in smoothing out the immature peaks and valleys and helps keep your goals on track. Here are some (not comprehensive) ideas to think on:
Take time to know your child. Working with a child’s personality, a parent needs to learn to develop that child’s individual traits and abilities and sometimes temper strengths that left unchecked would become a liability. For example, an assertive, outgoing personality is a great trait in a leader, but without self-control it can be seen as overly aggressive and controlling.
Take the time to point out where they can learn from the example of others. Use examples and outcomes of decisions of both right and wrong approaches to situations. Teach them cause and effect. Choices have consequences.
Take the time to understand what problems and issues your child is dealing with and then guide them to the right decisions by applying the right principles. By instilling principles rather than pat answers to problems, you will give them tools to work with that they can apply over and over again in their life.
Take the time to praise them when they make the right choices and gently show them the choice they missed when they go astray. Give them age appropriate responsibilities and let them stand or fall on their choices. (Note: Self-esteem comes from knowing you did do or are doing the right thing and should be praised. It’s not generated from unsupported, manipulative comments designed to make kids—or anyone else for that matter—feel good.)
Take the time to involve them in family activities and work. This will help them learn teamwork (sharing and considering others) and a good work ethic.
Why do all this? Pat Williams (senior vice president of the Orlando Magic) in his book, Coaching Your Kids to be Leaders, quotes Jackson University football coach Steve Gilbert,
I tell young people, "It feels good to be a leader!" Success and failure are part of the adventure of life. Young people need to see that good leaders are important in their community—and there are great rewards for being a good leader. Those rewards include a sense of satisfaction and a feeling that what you are doing is meaningful and significant. You don’t always win when you lead, but that’s okay. Young people should be rewarded and encouraged for stepping up and leading, no matter whether they succeed or fail.
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