Parents as Leadership Developers

Parents are well positioned to be the first leadership developers of their children. And yet, many parents do not take a deliberate approach to growing leadership in their kids.

Parents work to give them an early start in music, sports, and reading, but for some reason wait until they are older to talk about leading.

It is never too early to help your kids understand that leadership involves service, communication, teamwork, and helping others to grow.

Conversation Starters

It can feel awkward to speak to your kids about leadership if you feel like the pressure’s on to always be in active teaching mode. A good place to start is just weaving some leadership discussion into your every day conversation. Over the dinner table or as a part of your bedtime routine is the perfect place to start.

Don’t worry if you have the perfect question to ask to reinforce a particular skill. Instead get really curious about what’s going on with your child, ask open-ended questions, and see where the conversation goes. Without a doubt, you’ll not only learn about the way your child sees the world but also open yourself up to some very meaningful conversations.

In case you’d like some ideas on how to start a conversation about leadership skills with your child, here are some ideas.

Kindness

  • How were you kind today?
  • If your child tells you a friend was not kind ask: What happened? What could have been different?

Honesty

  • Why do you think we need to be honest?
  • How do you feel when you’ve been caught lying?

Learning

  • What one thing did you learn today?
  • What else do you want to learn about this (topic)?

Resilience

  • Why do you want to give up?
  • Why do you think it matters that you try again?

Respect

  • Why do you think it’s important to respect your teacher?
  • Do you think that people that look different from you really are different inside?

Creativity

  • Who is the most creative person you know?
  • What makes them really, really creative?

Problem Solving

  • What do you do when you feel really stuck?
  • What’s a problem you've solved recently that makes you really proud? How did you make things better?

Self-Knowledge

  • What makes you a great leader?
  • What areas of your leadership are you looking to improve?

This post is co-authored with Alli Polin and includes excerpts from our free e-book A Parent's Guide to Leadership. You can download a free copy here.

You can hear about developing leadership in children in my interview on Mukesh Gupta's podcast Pushing Beyond The Obvious.

Alternatively, you can learn more in this curation of thought leaders, including some insights from children: Parents As Leaders: Frontline Festival.