Family

How to Raise a Future Leader

Kids who take risks are more likely to discover strengths they didn't know they had

It is not always easy to spot a future leader among your children. While some kids take the reins of authority naturally from a young age, others seem cut out for anything but.

 

Without understanding how to lead, teens entering adulthood lack those skills that can help them succeed in a variety of settings, including college and work. A child’s kindergarten through high school years are the best time for parents to provide their offspring with opportunities to develop critical leadership skills.

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Military school is one of just many options available, of course, for kids to learn leadership skills. Churches, clubs, team sports, and charitable organizations are among the other opportunities.

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If you’re a parent wondering exactly what leadership skills to prioritize for your child, consider the following:

1.) Emotional Intelligence
Also known as “EQ,” this is one of the biggest drivers of leadership success, Dr. Travis Bradberry reveals in his book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.” People have varying degrees of EQ, but 90 percent of top performing leaders have a high EQ, which in turn is responsible for 58 percent of a leader’s job performance.

Children first learn EQ from their parents. What exactly is it? EQ represents a person’s ability to recognize their own emotions and those of others, and to use that emotional information to guide their decisions and actions. Empathy, the ability to see and feel things from another person’s perspective, is an important aspect of EQ.

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2.) Humility
Humble people tend to make the most effective leaders, according to research conducted by the University of Washington Foster School of Business. Humble people tend to be high performers in individual and team settings.

Don’t confuse humility with being a doormat. The University of Washington study defined humility as having an accurate view of oneself, modeling teachability, and showcasing followers’ strengths. Leaders who exaggerate their abilities, refuse to accept input and correction from others, and take credit for their team’s accomplishments aren’t as effective as humble leaders. Humble leaders are more effective than self-centered leaders at retaining valuable teammates and motivating their teams to achieve goals.

The things people value most are the things they worked the hardest for — especially those things they took great risks to attain.

Parents who openly practice humility are more effective in raising humble children.

3.) Teamwork
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” That’s the conclusion of leadership expert Ken Blanchard, perhaps best known for his bestselling book, “The One Minute Manager.” The greater the challenge a leader faces, the more he or she needs others to contribute knowledge, skill and strength toward a solution.

John Maxwell has spoken on leadership and teamwork to Fortune 500 companies, international governments, and sports teams. In his book “The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork,” Maxwell writes, “For the person trying to do everything alone, the game really is over. If you want to do something big, you must link up with others. One is too small a number to achieve greatness.”

Among the best opportunities for children to learn the value of teamwork are group activities such as working together on a project as a family. Scouting programs, volunteer activities through church and other organizations, and team sports are also great leadership avenues.

4.) Perseverance
Parents may become annoyed at children’s repeated requests to do or get something they’ve asked for, after they’ve been told “no.” It’s good for parents to hold their ground — but be careful not to break your child’s spirit. The initiative to keep going in the face of disappointment or opposition is a valuable leadership quality.

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When my 13-year-old son’s radio-controlled car recently stopped working, on his own initiative he used Google to search for a solution. Hours later, having diagnosed the problem, he asked me to help him order an inexpensive replacement part to make the necessary repair. I praised him for taking time to do research and find an answer to his problem. When you deny your child’s request, or if he encounters a problem, be sure to praise positive coping behaviors. Sulking, whining, or temper tantrums may grab your attention, but give most of your attention to acknowledging patient perseverance.

5.) Taking Risks, Learning from Failure
When my son was eight, he played in a community T-ball league. At the end of the season, every player received a trophy. That trophy is now in a garbage heap somewhere. The things people value most are the things they worked the hardest for — especially those things they took great risks to attain.

Jack Canfield, author of the bestselling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, has said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Overprotective parenting that keeps a child in a bubble of safety will assure that child an ordinary life. Success isn’t ordinary.

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Children who are encouraged to take risks are more likely to discover and develop strengths and skills they didn’t know they were capable of. They’re also more likely to encounter failure. But in taking risks and experiencing failure, kids will have opportunities to improve they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Jon Beaty, life coach and father of two, lives near Portland, Oregon. He’s the author of the book, “If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying: 7 Habits for Thriving in Your Faith, Relationships and Work.”

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