9 tips for developing child leadership skills

Updated: Sep 14


To create a life that is fulfilled and meaningful requires the ability to engage, influence and inspire other human beings. Teaching a child leadership skills is beneficial in enabling them to become a responsible member of the community, successful in what they want to do and help them create a support network around them.

Are leaders born leaders?

The question that is often asked is can leadership be trained or ‘are leaders born leaders?’. This question has been researched extensively and research has found the below common traits were displayed by leaders ;

  1. They set goals and take responsibility for their actions

  2. They are motivated by achievement

  3. They generally have intelligence greater than the average follower

  4. They have high physical energy

  5. They have high self confidence – they can visualise success

  6. They anticipate obstacles

  7. They create strategic plans

  8. They are flexible – they are able adapt to changes in their environment

  9. They have high moral values, behave ethically as they are concerned about consequences

  10. They use feedback to measure performance

Some more recent research has also focused on a set of competencies which have been important in determining leadership success, which has focused on the role of emotional intelligence (Justin, Di Giulia 2014). The basic four competencies of emotional intelligence for leadership are;

  1. Self Awareness – How you see yourself. Do you know when you need to improve and develop? Do you know what you are good at and what you need to improve on?

  2. Social Awareness – How you see and manage yourself within social groups and gatherings. Can you highlight when a situation is arising and needs your input or when you are best to say nothing at all? Do you know when you have lost rapport with someone and are you aware when you have it?

  3. Self Management – How do you manage yourself – do you set goals, can you schedule your time. Can you manage your own mood?

  4. Social skills – how do you communicate with others – Are you a good communicator, can you read body language and can you change your language and body language in order to build rapport?

This way of looking at leadership, builds in the skills that deal with our own emotions as an integral part of how we then perform as a leader. As a result a new theory for leadership is now more commonly looked at when looking at leadership training which combines the leadership traits list with emotional intelligence, called Emotional Intelligent Leadership (Allen 2012).

So, can you teach a child leadership skills?

So, back to our original question. Can you improve or build child leadership skills or are leaders born leaders? And secondly if we want to be teach child leadership skills, how can I do it? The answer to the first question is that leadership is in fact a skill and like with all skills they can be learnt. A study by Goldsmith in 2009 showed that people who received training showed significant improvement in their leadership quality. So, you can train a child leadership skills.

9 tips to help teach a child leadership skills

  1. Build their confidence – Confidence is key to developing the trust required to lead. See our 6 Tips to build confidence in children for help on building confidence

  2. Improve their communication skills.

  3. Help them get good at something – creating a competence will make leadership easier. Leading by example is a good way of creating followers.

  4. Encourage them to share ideas. Sharing ideas and visions with friends, team mates and family help create a shared vision.

  5. Promote persistent – Set goals and stick to a plan.

  6. Ask them to share in a sacrifice – show them by getting your hands dirty and joining in with something that is a challenge, will help build trust and influence.

  7. Ask them about a role model they may have – Ask them about the qualities they admire about them and why.

  8. Encourage them to admit fault – If they can learn to admit fault when they do something wrong it will allow them to gain & build the trust required to be able to lead and influence.

  9. Encourage them to avoid criticism – Criticism is the quickest way of breaking rapport and trust. Even if someone has done something wrong, ask them to find a way of informing that person that doesn’t involve criticism.

Much of the advice in this article can be instilled into children via either a teacher or parent modelling these behaviors. It’s important for us all to be self aware and notice if we are ourselves are displaying these qualities before trying to teach them to our children.

At life on time our aim is to inspire a generation into becoming kind, healthy and fulfilled human beings and we believe teaching a child leadership skills is key to making them capable of achieving this.  Our platform can help your school build child leadership into their curriculum.  To find out how click here.

Written by Jon Ford

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