15 Tips for Instilling Leadership Skills in Children
Many leaders also serve as parents, happily balancing a daily workload with ball games and family dinners. Along the way, most of these leader-parents also realize the influence they have over young minds. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, especially if those children have parents who are leaders.
While leadership skills can come naturally, children learn lessons along the way that significantly impacts them later in life. The right words at the right time can make all the difference.
Here are 15 great tips to help you instill the right skills in the future leaders in your life.
1. Set a good example.
As a leader, you realize the importance of setting a good example for your team. This is even truer of your role as a parent. By allowing your children to see how well you balance your business and personal roles, you’ll teach them accountability through effective leadership.
2. Encourage team activities.
Early on, identify your children’s interests and encourage their participation in group activities. Whether it’s joining a scouting troop, participating in sports or joining the school band, children learn valuable lessons about teamwork through these activities.
Related: To Raise a Well-Adjusted Adult, Teach Your Kid Early About the Value of Reputation
3. Emphasize perseverance.
The best leaders learn to handle failure as gracefully as they handle success. It’s important to expose future leaders to disappointment rather than protecting them from it. Children need to learn to handle the loss and move forward when the other team wins or someone else is elected class president.
4. Build negotiation skills.
Every good leader knows the art of compromise. Instead of giving your children a firm “yes” or “no” to a request, make an offer and allow them to counter that offer by offering solid points. Teach them negotiation skills like never giving up something without asking for something else in return.
5. Hone decision-making abilities.
Children should learn how to make good decisions as early in life as possible. Because children become overwhelmed by too many choices, narrow down the options to two or three, whether a child is deciding on afternoon activities or a movie to watch. My wife Kristy says "Teach your children to weigh the pros and cons of each option in order to make the most informed decision possible. This will help them to make correct decisions in everyday life."
6. Practice confident communication.
When you go to a restaurant, do you place orders for your children? You can actually turn a simple dinner into a confidence-building exercise by having your children speak directly to servers. Allowing them to order and speak directly to servers will help them gain confidence in themselves and be able to communicate what they need.
7. Encourage work.
Often children are eager to begin working in some capacity. If your child wants to set up a lemonade stand, support them and encourage it. Once your children are old enough, they can take on work opportunities like babysitting and mowing neighborhood yards, provided you live in a safe neighborhood. These early jobs can be essential to building leadership skills in children.
Related: How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids
8. Enroll in summer camp.
Summer camp is filled with opportunities to participate in team-building activities. Once youth reach a certain age, they may even be asked to help counselors. While many camps require counselors to be 18, a regular camp attendee may be able to land a spot assisting counselors, where they’ll be tasked with leading groups of younger children.
9. Have family game night.
Instead of spending an evening staring at your respective screens, consider an evening of board games instead. A family game night not only provides a unique way to spend time together, it helps children learn to be a good sport, play by the rules, and think strategically.
10. Teach project planning skills.
As a family, you likely have many planned events, from family vacations to visiting relatives. As you prepare, don’t leave children out of the planning process. Treat each event as though it were a business project, holding brainstorming sessions and delegating smaller tasks to your young family members.
11. Use vision boards.
One fun way to teach children goal-setting is through the use of vision boards. They’ll have fun cutting out pictures and arranging them on a board, and in the process they will learn how to visualize what they want to achieve.
12. Avoid jumping in.
When your child works on a project or activity, it can be tempting to jump in and help, especially if you see your child struggling. Instead, consider stepping back and letting your children work through it themselves. After the fact, you can review the obstacles and challenges that emerged during the task and ask for ideas on how things could have been done differently.
13. Find a mentor.
As great an example as you are to your children, a mentor can be invaluable. A trusted friend or family member can be a great mentor, especially if that person is accomplished in an area in which your child expresses interest. There are also organizations that can supply screened members as mentors.
14. Encourage reading.
Studies have shown the benefits of reading for fun in childhood, with children who read having greater intellectual progress in a variety of subjects. Young readers tend to learn more about the world, even when the reading is of a frivolous nature.
15. Reward optimistic thinking.
The fact that optimism is connected to success should not be lost on your family. Reward optimism, especially when that optimism is connected to attempting to reach a goal.
Financial expert Miranda Marquit teaches that "to teach your children money management you need to allow them to make mistakes. Have them make a list of what they want, then help them to prioritize what on the list is more important and have them save for it." This will teach them valuable lessons that will help them throughout their whole life. It will also help them know what they can and can't afford.
In small ways, today’s leaders can prepare younger generations for their future as business leaders. Each of these suggestions will not only create better leaders, but can help children perform better in school and develop better personal relationships throughout life.
Related: Richard Branson on Parenting and Work-Life Balance