When we speak or hear about leadership, many will immediately think of the work place, as well as various charity groups like: churches, civic organizations, youth organizations, etc. And while many of these places do practice leadership, there is another important area of our lives where leadership should be practiced, the family. Some of the best parenting advice anyone could give you is on the importance of leadership development in the home. Hopefully, by the end of this article you will know that anyone can learn to become a leader, that leadership is all about the process and that the time to learn and practice leadership is today, not tomorrow.
- The first piece of parenting advice is that everyone is capable of learning leadership skills and practicing those leadership skills. This includes your children. Granted a 5 year old would not have the same capacity level as a teenager, regarding leadership, but both can be taught the skills to be self-led. In fact you want your 5, 6, 7…year old to begin taking steps to become self-led, but more on that later. It is important to the child to see leadership modeled by the parent. In other words, the parents actions and accompanying words, greatly influences what a child learns. Every child is like a sponge when it comes to learning. If the parent is living out leadership via their actions and words the child will soak it up. They will soak up the positive or negative influences seen and heard in your daily example at home. And because kids are learning sponges, they are going to soak up things which will effect their self image. How they see themselves in this world. And if your child is not learning from you or you are not pouring leadership traits into them; then they will take their directions from someone else. And that someone else might not share your values. So take control over your child’s leadership development, with the knowledge they can be a self-led leader.
- The second piece of parenting advice is that, while leadership is a complex skill, learning leadership is all about the process, parents. Meaning it will not happen overnight and you children are not going to be perfect at it. And to be clear, it is not a matter of “if” they will make mistakes & missteps, but rather when. John C. Maxwell said, “This is true for the development of any skill. really .. and it’s particularly true of leadership .. it’s a process .. it evolves .. you don’t read one book and become a great leader overnight. You don’t attend one training program and become a great leader overnight. It takes time and commitment and a certain investment in yourself to develop your leadership skills.” Like, Rome, your child’s leadership won’t be built in a day. It will take years, so be patient. And parents don’t overlook your own need for leadership development. Also, none of us can ever know everything, so personal leadership growth should be ongoing. After all, you are a primary example to each of your children. If you make the investment in yourself as a parent leader, you can pour out your leadership example into each one of your children. This will result in both parent and child enhancing their respective leadership skills.
- The last piece of parenting advice is that the time to engage in developing leadership skills is today. In his book Today Matters, Maxwell says, “The only guarantee about tomorrow being better is if you do something today.” Therefore if you want to guarantee that your child’s leadership skills grow, along with those in your household, then you must start today. Again, leadership is a learnable complex skill that takes time to develop. And just because it takes time does not mean that you should take your time to begin starting the process. Tomorrow, next week, a year, 5 years are not guaranteed to any of us living today, so start now! Besides, that 5 year old will soon be 11 and then 18 years old, so get started now. And if you have a pre-teen or teen, don’t let their age stop you. They can still learn from you and be guided by you, even as you are developing your own personal leadership skills.
Again, I believe these three points are some of the best parenting advice regarding teaching your son or daughter to be self-led. There’s an old saying but it’s every bit as true today as it was when I was a kid, success occurs when preparation meets opportunity. Preparing your child, in the home, to become self-led prepares them for life’s opportunities. Therefore put your processes in place now, so each child of yours, can embrace opportunity when it presents itself. We all have the capacity to lead, but it takes a long, and consistent process to develop the complex skills needed for leadership. And it is a process we parents must initiate in the home and give children, pre-teens and teens the space to practice being self-led. And the space needed for recovery and growth from the inevitable errors and missteps they will make.