Creating Little Leaders by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Creating Little Leaders

By Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

Is it true that some people are born to lead while others are destined to follow? Can we instill leadership skills into all of our children? These are interesting questions to ponder. The first statement is true. Some people are born with the personality traits and gifts that give them the aptitude to lead without effort. It would be a sad and crazy world indeed if we had all leaders and no followers. In fact, there is no leader if nobody is following!

No matter which category a person falls into, it is imperative that we learn the kind of leadership skills that will protect us from blindly following a negative path. The kind of skills I am referring to are such things as; knowing right from wrong, knowing how to make wise choices, accepting responsibility for our own actions, respecting authority, motivating others, creating a team rather than being a dictator, being consistent and trustworthy, to name a few.

How and when should we teach our children these leadership qualities?

Firstly, we need to realize that leadership is a training process. It is not merely a trait that you have or don't have. It is a quality that needs positive training right through childhood years. From infancy children begin to learn right from wrong as parents explain and train them to meet family expectations and values. Isn't it amazing that we never have to teach children to be 'bad', but we do have to teach them how to be 'good'? Consistency in training along with praise for getting it right and good modeling develops this quality, along with giving children responsibilities.

Setting boundaries and issuing consequences guides a child to learn obedience and to respect authority. By crossing the set boundaries, they are making the choice to take the consequences. The parent is merely carrying out the penalty the child knew would occur, thus teaching them to take responsibility for their own actions.

Making wise choices is learned through positive role modeling by parents, open communication between child and parent and support when negative choices are made, thus alleviating a similar result next time. Not every decision needs pondered thought. It depends on how it will affect them or others. Parents need to explain the kind of steps that will help produce a positive outcome. How important is this choice to me? Is my decision going to affect anyone else? Is this decision going to alter the course of my career or long term goals?

Too many times we are making choices by not doing anything or by being sucked into a negative activity without thinking. Making wise choices is proactive. It is all about thinking of the consequences before we act. By just waiting until a reaction occurs, it puts us into a defensive mode and anyone will tell you that the response is almost always subjective and, therefore, unreliable.

Effective leaders learn how to deal with conflict and criticism rather than being trapped into holding grudges. They do not find themselves thinking, 'I won't forget this! You will pay!' By dealing objectively with an issue, sorting it out and forgiving, if necessary, leaders become free to focus clearly on the greater picture. By working as part of a team we learn to trust others and they, in turn, learn to trust our leadership. There is no need to clamber for the glory.

Since everybody is a leader to some degree (we have to take responsibility for our own lives) we need to instill leadership qualities into the followers as well as the natural leaders from an early age so that our children make a positive imprint on the world around them. The world needs leaders who can inspire others and lead them on to greatness.

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