Following the…..Wait! Don’t follow, BE the Leader
Most of us know the catchy tune from Disney’s Peter Pan:
“We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader wherever he may go. We won’t be home til morning, til morning, we won’t be home til morning because he told us so.”
This isn’t the mentality we should be pushing to our children anymore. As the word boss now becomes a distant memory and the word leader becomes the more dominant term, it’s important to start teaching children to actually be THE LEADER. I believe the old saying, “Lead by Example” works most appropriately here. Children are very moldable and so every little action you do can prep them to be confident, and inspirational future leaders.
Forbes lists the top 8 ways to mold children into leaders:
Model Emotional Intelligence
What is Emotional Intelligence? It’s the ability to recognize emotions both within one ’s self and others, and be able to not only label them correctly but to use the information to manage behavior and thinking.
Per Talentsmart, Emotional Intelligence is 58% of your job performance. They reported that 90% of Top Performers not only have high EQ, they also make $29,000 more annually than those with lower EQ.
As children are very aware of your reaction to your own emotions, they are just as aware of your reaction to their emotions. So before you pull your hair out over their next tantrum – just remember that your response could be negatively affecting them more than you think.
Don’t Obsess About Achievement – “Creating an Over Achiever”
Yes, we all love trophies, pats on the back, and awards, but to obsess over a child’s individual and personal achievements does not prepare them for the real world. This can deter the child from learning that team achievements are just as important, if not MORE important. In order to lead people, you must accept the fact that you need other people to achieve your goals…in fact, you WANT other people to help so that you can help them to grow into success as well.
Don’t Praise Too Much – “False Confidence”
Self-esteem is something that children need to build on a daily basis, and giving praise is one of the main things to do this, but over-praise can create a sense of false reality and false confidence in the long run. If a child grows up being given awards and trophies even when they come in last place or lose a game, they will never know the difference between success and failure. Children need to only hear praise and pride over their efforts; they don’t need a trophy to soften the blow of losing the championship game.
Allow Them to Experience Risk and Failure
All too often, failure or losing is portrayed as a negative thing rather than an opportunity to take risks, or work harder to achieve success the next time the opportunity presents itself. Life and business involve risk, and if you never experience risk as a child you won’t know what to do with it as an adult. If a child is overprotected and never allowed to fail, they will never be a leader. A child who experiences failure, simply needs to be comforted and supported so they know everything will work out ok. A good leader knows what failure feels like and has the ability to learn from it and adjust to create success from that failure.
Saying No – “Spoiled Rotten”
Kids need to hear the word “no” and learn the gratification of working hard for what they want. It not only helps them to create goals, but it teaches them patience. A good leader knows that hard work always pays off, being lazy doesn’t. A child who only hears yes all the time is in for a rude awakening in the real world, not just in their professional life, but also in their adult personal relationships.
Let Children Solve Their Own Problems
When parents consistently step in to clean up a child’s problems, they never learn accountability, independence, responsibility or problem solving; all of which a good leader needs. As a leader, you are in a position to carry out decisions that could lead to problematic situations that you will need to be accountable for and problem-solve to figure out a way to straighten things out. Children need to learn how to solve their own problems be they can grow up to be the take charge, responsible leader you want them to be.
Walk Your Talk
As a parent it’s important to be honest, not only with your words but also with who you are as a person. As moldable beings, children are “monkey see monkey do” and if you align your words and actions on a consistent basis, they will learn to do the same. Good leaders are open, honest, and transparent, which earns the respect and trust of their team members.
Show You’re Human
We are all human, we all make mistakes, we all have our own little failures and our kids should be aware of this. Don’t try to hide your past from your kids, they need to be able to relate to someone in some way so that they see that you learned from your mistakes and were able to overcome challenges. Leaders not only make mistakes, they embrace them, learn from them and grown from them.