Updated: Mar 28
Creating a fulfilled and meaningful life 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 themselves.
Are leaders born leaders?
An often-asked question is 'can leadership be trained or are leaders born that way?’
This question has been investigated extensively, and research has found that the below common traits were displayed by leaders:
They set goals and take responsibility for their actions.
They are motivated by achievement.
They generally have intelligence greater than the average follower.
They have high physical energy.
They have high self confidence – they can visualise success.
They anticipate obstacles.
They create strategic plans.
They are flexible – they are able adapt to changes in their environment.
They have high moral values, behave ethically as they are concerned about consequences.
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. This research has focused on the role of emotional intelligence (Justin, Di Giulia 2014). The basic four competencies of emotional intelligence for leadership are:
Self Awareness – How do 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?
Social Awareness – How do you 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?
Self Management – How do you manage yourself? – Do you set goals, can you schedule your time? Can you manage your own mood?
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 the emotional skills as an integral part of a leader. As a result, a new theory for leadership is now more commonly looked at when looking at leadership training, one which combines the 'leadership traits' list with emotional intelligence, called Emotional Intelligent Leadership (Allen 2012).
So, can you teach a child leadership skills?
Can you improve or build child leadership skills, or are leaders born leaders? And, if we want to teach child leadership skills, how can we do it?
The answer to the first question is that leadership is a skill, and as 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. Therefore, you can train a child leadership skills.
9 tips to help teach a child leadership skills:
Build their confidence – confidence is key to developing the trust required to lead. See our blog, 6 Tips to build confidence in children, for help on building confidence!
Improve their communication skills
Help them get good at something – creating a competence will make leadership easier. Leading by example is a good way of creating followers.
Encourage them to share ideas - sharing ideas and visions with friends, teammates, and family helps to create a shared vision.
Promote persistence – set goals and stick to a plan.
Ask them to share in a sacrifice – teach leadership by displaying it as an act of getting your hands dirty and joining in with something that is a challenge. This teamwork will help build trust and influence.
Ask them about a role model they may have – ask them about the qualities they admire about them and why.
Encourage them to admit fault – if they can learn to admit fault when making an error, it will allow them to gain & build the trust required to be able to lead and influence.
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 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 youHQ and Life on Time Ltd, our aim is to inspire a generation into becoming kind, healthy, and fulfilled human beings. 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 more, click here.
Written by Jon Ford