Watching your child play with a group of his friends, you find to your dismay that they’re a follower. In every school performance, your child is mere background for other, super high-performing kids.
Now your stomach churns and your anxiety spikes up. Is my child going to be a forever follower? Never to be in charge of a team but a cubicle clerk, ordered around by others?
The answer is no, and now you breathe.
Yes, it can be hard to take lightly, watching your child follow other kids around. But before you jump on Google and start searching, “How to raise my child to be a leader”, here are some things you should know.
Things to understand about a follower
1. Kids develop at different paces during different periods of their lives
Even though your child might not be a leader at the moment, he might be observing and learning to become one later. Some kids might take on a leadership role in the beginning of the semester, while other kids might surge to prominence later in the year.
2. Emotional maturity is a big factor
Being able to control oneself emotionally while being sociable is a big factor when it comes to leading a group. Some children might take a longer time to reach emotional maturity, but with enough time they can learn to build healthy emotional intelligence.
3. With the right training, your kids can acquire leadership skills
Research shows that leadership can be taught by refining certain traits. Even if your child doesn’t show a talent for leadership, by acquiring key traits, they can develop important leadership skills.
4. Good communicator
To become a leader, your child should be able to persuade and describe a plan of action while delegating tasks. Being an effective communicator is the key to achieving these goals.
5. Leadership is a role, not a rank or title
There are many people successfully leading groups or teams in many different areas across various industries, without a distinct title or rank. Many activists have fought for their visions while motivating others, without the benefit of a formal title. Leadership skills build a vision by moving others to achieve a common goal.
Key leadership skills to becoming a true leader
1. Ability to ask questions
By asking questions, one can grasp fundamental principles and develop logical thinking. Encourage your child to ask questions and explore their curiosity, in order to understand the basic principles of the problem while working toward a solution.
2. Critical thinking and adaptability
The difference between a leader and a follower is knowing when and how to execute a task to achieve a desired goal. With strong critical thinking and adaptability, children can become problem solvers while keeping up with the rapidly changing world around them. Without these skills, one has little choice but to wait for instructions from someone who knows the way and has a solution to the problem.
3. Autonomy and independence
The public school system was initially devised to raise followers who would be ideal candidates for factory work. Being good at following instructions but unable to find one’s own solutions, or failing to delegate tasks to meet larger goals, is a shortcut to life as a follower. Being autonomous and independent helps one think outside the box and see the pathway to a goal.
4. Emotional intelligence
Aspects of a healthy emotional intelligence such as empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation and social skill help a leader engage with others while maintaining a cool head.
5. Execution skill
Execution skill involves setting a goal, and then organizing and managing tasks and resources in order to achieve that goal. This is a fundamental skill for any leader, which makes it possible for a group working as a team to harvest the fruits of their hard work.
6. Enough exposure to social interaction
Experiencing a variety of social interactions is one of the keys to learning leadership skills. Children learn fast by imitating those they admire. If your child has an abundance of opportunities to be around great leaders, they can acquire many of the necessary skills simply by observing leadership in action.
What if your child refuses to be a leader?
1. What are the barriers for your child to acquire leadership?
There are many reasons children might refuse to take on a leadership role, such as lower self-esteem, fear of judgment, and stage fright. It’s important to explore the fundamental problems behind your child’s reluctance and work step by step towards building leadership skills—at a pace that’s comfortable for your child.
2. Let your child take time to explore leadership from different angles
By observing the leaders around them, children can learn and explore different approaches to leadership. By taking time to consider a variety of leadership styles, your child might discover an ideal technique and try it out themselves.
3. Encourage them to find opportunities to experience being a leader
While you’re helping your child acquire leadership skills, expose them to small leadership roles. Start at home by presenting them with an opportunity to lead a small game or project. Through trial and error and a variety of leadership opportunities, your child will begin to understand the importance of different leadership skills.
4. Provide examples of different forms of leadership via books and real-life models
Inspiring your child with real-life figures that he or she admires is a great way to encourage your child to explore their own leadership potential. Even though unlocking one’s full leadership potential doesn’t have a single solution for everyone, by acquiring leadership skills your child will increase the opportunities for success in their lives.
Your child can become a leader by acquiring leadership traits. Because each child’s development speed might vary at different stages of their lives, this process might be quick and simple at one point, and long and painful the next. With focus on improving key leadership skills such as the ones mentioned above, your child can build leadership traits that will contribute to their long-term success.
You might also be interested in reading the posts below:
- Why independence for children is so important, and how to help your child be more independent
- Self-esteem activities for kids—raise a confident and happy child
- Secrets to boosting your child’s social skills