Have you ever looked at the world around you and wondered how leaders are created? Great leaders don’t just find themselves in positions of power by chance. They’ve strategically and purposely created opportunities for networking and advancement. Executives find themselves scaling professional social networks like Linkedin or rsvping for the company’s holiday party when looking to close that next big deal.
Many parents have the same attitude when intentionally creating an emerging leader within their child. In this case, exposure to leadership becomes key. A budding judge or attorney benefits from joining debate teams or viewing documentaries about important court cases. Are there children who eventually become judges despite not be exposed to the likes of Supreme Court justices? Surely! However, with the emergence of social media and it’s immediate accessibility to those who were otherwise unattainable, parents are utilizing a variety of platforms to mold young leaders.
5 Strategies to Foster Leadership in Children
Broaden your own horizons.
Children, like sponges, soak in everything around them. I do mean everything, albeit verbal or nonverbal. Just when you think they’re not listening it means that they’ve heightened every sense in their little body to hear exactly what you don’t want them to hear. That means that as parents we have to constantly be open to exposing ourselves to more if we desire for our children to be open to a bigger life than the one we’ve created for ourselves. It is very likely that as a young adult you travelled to places on your own that were made familiar to you during your childhood, unless a job or friend suggests taking a trip to another part of the country or another continent. I would imagine that most people who have only traveled within their own state as children don’t decide to plan a trip to Manila, Philippines.
Build self-esteem from an early age.
It’s no secret that the commonalty between corporate executives and entrepreneurs is that they are risk takers. In order to proverbially jump out of a window without a parachute for a living one must have the self-esteem to be able to take a no and turn it into a yes. When your child achieves the level of the success that you’re attempting to build, he/she better have the necessary self-esteem required to keep him/her company since it’s known to be lonely at the top.
Expose them to both traditional and nontraditional career paths.
Years ago, children aspired to be teachers, fire fighters and occasionally lawyers. Nowadays, it’s not as uncommon to hear of someone from a neighboring state becoming an actual rocket scientist. What factors determine if one make the conscious decision to be an architect, forensic psychologist or financial analyst? I argue that exposure to varying career paths give young children options they would have not otherwise known to be available. It’s too much pressure to ship a teenager off to college and expect that by the end of their sophomore year they should be able to declare a major that determines a career path for a lifetime if we haven’t invested the time to expose them to a large variety of possibilities.
Teach them to accept failure.
None of us want our babies to fail. Failure hurts and is sometimes accompanied by shame. However, failure oftentimes leads to bigger successes if we allow ourself to learn from missing our target. Perhaps the lesson may be that we didn’t plan adequately or that we didn’t work hard enough. Either way, if we are human then failure is inevitable. One of the best lessons we can teach our children is how to deal with failure and more importantly how to rebound from it.
Leaders understand that we are only bound by the limitations that we set for our own selves. Fostering an attitude that dismantles the perception that success is unattainable will teach children that the sky is truly the limit. I don’t know about you but I’m uncomfortable raising my children with the threat of any glass ceiling hovering above them. They will meet enough people who won’t believe in their abilities. I don’t need them adding themselves to that list.
If our precious children live to be 100 years old, then they will typically spend less than 20% of their lives living with us before we send them off to venture into adulthood. If we want to set the foundation for them to acquire the skills necessary to lead in life and career, then it is imperative that we equip them with the attitudes and characteristics of leaders. Along with intentional parenting comes the responsibility of broadening our own perspective to allow ourselves to foster the best within our own children.