I share in the saying that “we are not all born as leaders”. However, for those not born as leaders, leadership skills can be instilled in them right from infancy as part of their socialization process. This leads them to become successful leaders later in life. More importantly, many leaders also serve as parents while juggling their family life with their busy work schedules. These leader-parents have a massive influence over young minds as they serve as primary agents of socialization.
Even though leadership skills can be inborn, the lessons that children face in their day-to-day existence significantly impact on their success as future leaders. In essence, the right lesson imparted to a child at the right time makes a difference in the life of that child. Hence, the role of the leader-parent in instilling early leadership abilities in children is indispensable; as today’s child is tomorrow’s leader. Thus, it is essential for parents to make time within their busy schedules to instill the right leadership skills in their children.
The following tips aid parent-leaders in instilling the right leadership traits in their children:
- Allow your child make choices: Children must be allowed to make choices and these choices need not be life changing. Parent-leaders must ensure that the choices that they allow their children to make on a daily basis are age-appropriate. Some of these simple choices include allowing the child to chose between outfits or how they want to wear their hair. Allowing children to make choices is important because it is the best means to instill and practice decision-making. Decision-making is crucial in effective leadership and giving children the power of choice aids them in navigating through tough decisions with ease.
- Leading By Example: Children learn vicariously as a result, parents are one of the most important socializers of their children. Leaders must set good examples for their followers and research has proven that it elicits positive work ethics from their subordinates. This is also true for parenting as children mimic what their parents do, hence it is crucial to set good examples. Thus, when parents allow their children to witness how they effectively balance their personal and business roles they learn to emulate accountability in leadership.
- Build negotiation skills and Practice confident communication: Compromise is an essential technique in leadership. Giving firm “Yes or No” answers to requests from your child should be replaced as much as possible with negotiations. These negotiations must allow children to engage in polite but engaging discussions as to why a decision should be reversed. Parents should teach their children not to easily give up during negotiations without requesting for something else in return. Children must also be made to understand the importance of assertive communication by encouraging them to practice it. For instance, parents must allow their children to place their own orders at restaurants as it provides a confidence building exercise for them. This is because when children are allowed to have a voice, it builds self-confidence and communication skills which are all essential qualities of leadership. Thus, the Ghanaian saying that “children must be seen and not heard” has no place in early leadership training. Once children are encouraged to practice assertiveness at home they learn and understand how and when to use assertive communication.
- Emphasize perseverance: The most efficient leaders learn to handle both failure and success gracefully. Future leaders must not be shielded from disappointment but rather be taught how to deal with them. Parents must teach their children how to maintain a positive outlook when dealing with loss even if the other team wins. Parents can sometimes get fixated on wanting only the best for their children and sometimes end up neglecting to teach their children how to handle situations that do not go as envisioned. Scholars in Psychology have posited that how a child deals with failure is a good indicator of that child’s intellectual growth. In effect, parents must ensure that they teach their children healthy and constructive ways to deal with failure.
- Develop Emotional Intelligence: How well your child understands and exhibits empathy and sympathy is an indication of a developed emotional intelligence, which is significant in problem solving. A developed emotional intelligence is essential for effective leadership. Psychology Today has a free test that can help one to gauge where they are on the emotional intelligence scale. There are extensive ways to develop emotional intelligence, thus it is crucial for parents and their children to conduct an assessment of their emotional intelligence levels in order to maintain or improve on them.
- Encourage teamwork: An effective leader is one who is both a team leader and team player. Parents must teach their children about the efficacy of teamwork. When children learn to cooperate, support others and solve problems as a team, their leadership skills are enhanced. Parents must identify and encourage their children’s interests and participation within groups. Teamwork can be learnt during participation in sporting activities or the joining of clubs and this must be encouraged.
- Teach conflict resolution: Conflict management is another essential skill of leadership. Conflicts are a constant part of life and are therefore bound to set in. It is important to learn how to bring about a peaceful resolution of them when they set in. The best way to teach effective conflict resolution strategies to children is during sibling squabbles. Children must be allowed to attempt at working out their differences. Also, in appropriate circumstances, parents may play the role of a mediator. Mediating should include allowing children to state their grievances in their own words by using “I statements”. The use of the “I statements” allow children to learn how to take responsibility for their actions. Another mediating role would be to allow them identify their needs and work together to reach a compromise that will suit everyone. However, if a compromise cannot be reached, parents must allow their children to take a break from the situation and this teaches the child that conflict resolution may take time to achieve. That is, every problem need not be solved the minute it arises.
- Instill The Dangers Of Procrastination: Although we all have procrastinated at one time, it must not become a habit. When procrastination becomes a habit, it prevents a person from attaining their full potential. Though it is essential for parents to let their kids be kids, it is also vital to teach them to get things done at the appropriate time. Dr. Tim Pychyl, a psychologist at Carleton University in Canada, has highlighted the need to reduce procrastination, as it is essential for successful leadership.
In essence, parents have the tremendous responsibility of bringing up the next generation of leaders. The seed of leadership planted during the budding years of the child makes all the difference in how successful the child will be as a leader. Thus, the tips that have been explored in this article as the means for instilling leadership are some of the many ways in which Parents and caregivers can effectively nurture and socialize their children into efficient leaders.
About the Author:
Mrs. Nana Adwoa Konadu Dsane, FCILG is the President of Ghana Thyroid Foundation and the Secretary of National Executive Council of Chartered Institute of Leadership and Governance.
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