Raising the Precious Leaders of Tomorrow
Good leadership begins in childhood. Though you see a child’s leadership potential, you may not know how to foster it. You may worry about making a mistake. How can you help a child be the best version of themselves? What skills would be helpful? Which values could you share?
We teach little children to walk, talk, and eat. What if we could help them see who they are and how they can be leaders? Parents, grandparents and caregivers can nurture a child’s leadership. Just as seeds take time to grow, leadership takes time to grow, and is worth the wait.
A young child’s leadership skills begin with small steps—feeding a pet, helping a sibling, and learning to listen. Mundane as these tasks may seem, each one promotes leadership and the confidence that goes with it. These are skills for a lifetime.
Learning to be a leader happens one step at a time, one day at a time. Along the way, a child learns the joy of helping others and giving. These joys last a lifetime.
The best news: leadership can be learned and grown.
Different personalities handle leadership in different ways with different skills. Each leadership personality brings unique and wonderful gifts to others. Some leaders are bold and assertive, visionary and in front. There are also equally effective and successful quiet leaders. These quiet leaders lead through support, listening, encouraging and focusing on the team or details.
You probably know leaders who are task-oriented. You may also know leaders who are people-oriented. Some leaders are a blend of both styles. Learning to be a leader in either style is a great place to begin with a young child. Start with who they are and what they enjoy.
If leadership can be learned, the question is, “How can you help a child see and grow their leadership gifts?” Understanding what good leadership looks like is a starting point. A child can choose to be a leader in many areas. Here are a few:
- Finding joy in learning
- Developing listening skills
- Using their manners
- Celebrating others’ gifts
- Making hard choices
- Setting goals and getting results
- Being responsible and accountable
- Making a difference
- Helping others
- Seeing failure as a stepping-stone to success
- Letting others shine
When you foster leadership in a child, and the thought process that goes with it, you are helping them grow and develop skills. Of course, practice doesn’t mean perfect. Practice means becoming a leader step-by-step, task-by-task and week-by-week.
Young children, ages three to eight, can track their own progress. You may help by providing a sticker chart, star chart or smartphone photos. Post these signs of progress in a prominent place, on the refrigerator door or kitchen bulletin board. Help your child add to these signs of progress.
The best way to foster a child’s leadership is to model it. Adults and kids may share leadership tasks: picking up trash, donating books to the library, delivering groceries to a sick friend and more. A child sees these acts of kindness and learns from them. Kindness learned grows into kindness given.
About the Authors
Harriet Hodgson and Kathy Kasten are co-authors of Ready, Set, Lead! a rhyming poem which aims to nurture leadership in young children.
Harriet Hodgson is the author of thousands of articles and 44 published books. She is author and illustrator of Grief Doodling: Bringing Back Your Smiles, and the soon-to-be released picture book, First Steps, First Snow. To learn more about Harriet visit her website harriethodgson.net.
Kathy Kasten is the Founder and CEO of Lion Crest Leadership. With a background in both small business ownership and corporate management, Kathy is recognized internationally for her skills in helping others grow their leadership, build meaningful relationships, and live a legacy they want to leave. To learn more about Kathy visit her website lioncrestleadership.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.