We all want our kids to grow up to be leaders. It’s not necessarily that we want them to grow up to be the President or a CEO, but in order for them to have much of an impact on their world, they’re going to have to lead in some capacity. There is a calling and a purpose in each of our lives, and to carry it out requires a certain level of leadership and influence. As parents, we can be intentional about nurturing the traits of great leaders – confidence, kindness, big dreams, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and resilience to follow those dreams to reality.
Here are four ways we can parent and raise our children to be effective leaders:
1. LET THEM PRACTICE SOLVING THEIR OWN PROBLEMS.
You can’t be an effective leader if you can’t manage conflict, right? It’s just inevitable. And the more adept our kids are at solving problems, the more practice they’ve had, the more effective leaders they’re going to be.
By this, I mean wait a bit before intervening at the first sound of disagreement or challenge to your little one. By giving them some extra time to try to work things out on their own, one of two things is going to happen – they’ll either solve the conflict on their own without our intervention, or they’ll misstep and we’ve got an awesome opportunity to coach, teach and mediate! But none of that even happens if you just immediately jump in and rescue them, right?
2. TEACH DECISION-MAKING SKILLS
Great leaders know how to make decisions! They can make informed decisions quickly without being caught in analysis paralysis. And then they can move forward on that decision and execute it without wasting time overthinking or worrying about that they made the wrong decision. This is a skill that takes practice! So we’ve got to give them opportunities to make decisions from a young age. Super basic questions – what do you want to wear today? What color bowl do you want for your breakfast? Which toy do you want to bring on the car ride? Which book do you want to read? Should we brush our teeth before or after we wash our face? So many opportunities in a day for them to practice small decisions!
And as they get older, the decisions can bear greater weight. And we can teach them tools to help in their decision-making process – weighing options, making pros/cons lists, researching so they can make informed decisions, evaluating the situation from everyone’s perspective, and seeking advice from wise people they trust.
The thing to remember here as parents are simply that our kids aren’t going to get better at making decisions unless we let them practice – often! So take a minute to think – how often do your kids get to make decisions? Let’s give them some power to decide.
3. FOCUS ON EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
If we want to raise great leaders – effective leaders – we’ve to really focus on our children’s EQ. A huge part of our kids’ EQ, is their self-regulation skills. So teaching them self-control, managing their impulses, and practicing delayed gratification are so important!
Leaders with high EQ are leaders we want to follow, right? They get buy-in from those they’re leading. They’re effectively persuasive. They’re great at resolving conflict. So how do we raise kids with high EQs?
By teaching them, encouraging them, and equipping them with their calming strategies and self-regulation tools. We can model accountability and help them gain a keen awareness that what they do and say impacts them and others.
Another part of cultivating a high EQ in our children is simply listening to them and validating their feelings. As we do this, our children are learning and growing a secure attachment to us, and they are also learning how to listen and validate others’ feelings.
4. ENCOURAGE SERVANT LEADERSHIP
The most powerful leadership is in service of others. In order to instill this idea in our children and encourage them to serve, we can involve them in non-profit organizations, community service, or serving in their church. The idea is that our children have the opportunity to serve and see us serve.
Our kiddos have got to understand that there is a greater purpose in their leadership. Leadership is not only about power or money, but it’s really about making the world a better place and having a positive impact on those around us. When we have the opportunity to serve, we can experience how the joy and empowerment of fulfilling that greater purpose.
How’re you helping your children grow into leaders? Let me know in the comments below!