Leadership Skills are shaped early in a child's life.
Many of the qualities of a great leader are firmly rooted in the way kids grow up. The skills that are sought out to qualify someone as a leader are the same skills that will make your child stand out at on their sports team, chorus, or any group activity.
Teams regardless of whether they work together in science, technology, healthcare, or any other industry, look up to someone and follow someone’s lead if they feel they can count on that person. They want to be able to rely on the person.
This quality is formed early in life. First of course there is the skill level. It takes a solid commitment by your child to perfect their skills. The rest of their chosen team members will want to know that your child will give its personal best effort. They want to rely on your child and its willingness to learn and perfect the skill. This takes practice and diligence. One thing a parent can do is to show, demonstrate and demand consistency. Clear and honest communication between your child and its friends and team mates is key.
Making a commitment to practice something for 10,000 hours to eventually master a skill is a huge commitment. If your child doesn’t love the activity it will have a very difficult time to continue with the effort of mastering their chosen skill. Allow the child to be honest. The best way to foster honesty is to model honesty in the entire family and to not get in trouble for whatever is shared. Foster an environment of calm conversation, often at dinner time, or during the afternoon when things are still fresh on your child’s mind. When parents model calm conversation, listening skills, genuine interest in hearing each other out, calm discussion about the pros and cons of everyone’s opinion, the child will learn that sharing its opinions and feelings honestly is a productive way to achieve understanding and consensus.
Avoid raising a quitter by making sure that the child doesn’t make commitments lightly, or gives up too soon. In order to fall in love with an activity the child needs to have a success experience. This is the sweet feeling of having tried, and tried, and tried and then finally having succeeded. Don’t allow your child to cut corners. Demand that your child chooses activities wisely and doesn’t merely pretend to make a commitment. It is tempting to be agreeable to please others in a room. Decisions have consequences and respect for decisions teaches the child to genuinely contemplate its preferred options.
Foster the understanding of a responsibility to the team early in life. If a child joins a sports team or a band, don’t allow them to skip classes or lessons. Don’t let them quit before the end of the season. Unless there are very clear reasons for such a decision. Make them responsible to the team they joined and explain that even though they may not feel like going because they are tired, or it is raining – the team needs to be able to count on the child. All for one, one for all.
Success in business and at home are always related to the quality of the relationships. Relationships that are based on mutual respect and mutual trust are successful. If a child wants to change course, have the child reflect and verbalize their reasons. If the reasons are selfish, point that out to the child, ask the child to reflect how he or she would feel if they were let down by a team mate in similar fashion. Being able to self-assess and find understanding for its own motives, knowing if the motives are for the common good or simply selfish, is an important leadership skill. It allows the child to assess how it comes across and perhaps even more importantly it allows it to realize how it will be viewed by others. Ultimately it will give the child the choice to forge a character that allows it to feel self-respect, to feel at ease with the way it functions in the world. By practicing the assessment of how an action will be reacted to by others will build the child’s ability to feel compassionate toward others.
The qualities that set up the child for future success as a leader are honesty, reliability, great listening skills, mutual respect and compassion.