Some kids seem to seek out leadership roles, while others avoid them at all costs. Yet leadership is linked with many characteristics that enable us to be more successful throughout life. Honing their abilities now can be a catalyst to a fuller and more satisfying future, as adolescents become more confident, better collaborators, and are better prepared for college and the “real world.”
How do you nurture the inner leader in a young person, whether they gravitate toward leadership roles or not? These four resources can help.
Characteristics That Count
How do you define leadership? Clearly many qualities weigh into the equation, but four particular aspects stand out:
- The ability to make plans or affect changes means nothing if you don’t have the courage to follow through with them.
- Plans can be turned upside down in the blink of an eye, and you have to be ready to adapt.
- Holding fast to our values is an essential component of effective leadership.
- To become someone people want to follow, you must be open and generous.
Assess Your Actions
Regardless of whether you think of yourself as a leader, how you act around youth will influence their perceptions of leadership.
- Model Emotional Intelligence. Appropriately managing your own behavior and social interactions will show young people emotional maturity.
- Avoid Fixating on Achievements. Rather than making everything about performance and awards, Forbes explains youth learn better standards from adults who acknowledge the bigger picture.
- Allow Risks and Failures. Children who learn to fall and get back up again will learn perseverance.
Nobody is successful without assistance from others. Teaching kids to connect and collaborate encourages them to perform better as individuals, so include team-building exercises in your interactions.
- Classic Games. Simple, classic games like group jump rope and a trust walk can be fun and developmental team-building exercises for kids of all ages.
- Indoor Activities. There are indoor activities like Protect the Castle which teach invaluable teamwork skills.
- Backyard Fun. Modified versions of tag, soccer and basketball can help kids hone their teamwork.
All these pieces of the leadership puzzle come together when kids get involved in making their community a better place. Consider these opportunities that teach young people about inclusion, empathy and outreach:
- Walk for Fighting Disease. Consider participating in one of the many walks organizations have to raise awareness and funds.
- Befriend an Adult with a Disability. Contact an organization that helps people with disabilities, and ask them to connect you with someone who could join your family at events.
- Deliver Food. Deliver food together, either by taking it to a food pantry or delivering directly to homebound people.
- Visit Seniors. Contact a nursing home and ask for your family to be paired with a senior who could use some companionship.
From literacy to leadership, we live in a world where kids are often falling through the cracks. Whether kids are drawn to leadership roles or not, they can all benefit from honing their abilities. Take these resources to heart and invest in tomorrow’s leaders.
— This post was authored by Amy Collett