By ROHINI RAJARATNAM
You know how they say charity begins at home? Likewise, leadership too. Look at it this way: a family is like a company, the children are the interns, and the parents are the managers.
As your children watch you every day, they absorb your behaviour like a sponge. Also at a young age, a child is most influenced by his parents. Hence, your behaviour is most likely mirrored by your children, which means leadership actually starts with you.
There is indeed a strong link between leadership and parenting. Parents hold the key to tomorrow’s future and it is important to do it with your children if you want to make a change.
So, where does one start?
1. Understand your child
The first step in teaching someone is to first understand how they work and what works best. Working with a child’s personality, a parent needs to learn how best to develop that child’s individual traits and abilities.
This also involves tempering traits that are left unchecked which could become a liability in the future. For example, an assertive, outgoing personality is a great trait in a leader, but without self-control it can be seen as overly aggressive and controlling.
2. Teach them independence
Success in business and in life is driven by risk. When parents go overboard in protecting their children, they don’t allow them to take risks or experience failure.
This can become an issue as they may grow up having difficulties facing failure head-on, even though setbacks are essentials to succeed as a leader. However, don’t rub it in their face either. Just be there for your child when they fail.
3. Show some appreciation
It is good to show appreciation once in a while and praise your children for their achievements to build a healthy sense of self-esteem. However, piling on the praise doesn’t give them more self-esteem.
Children need to believe in themselves and to develop the self-confidence required to become the best versions of themselves, but if you gush every time they put pen to paper or kick a ball (the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality), this creates confusion and false confidence.
Show your children how proud you are of their passion and effort; just don’t paint them as superstars when you know it isn’t true.
4. Organise more activities
Once you have understood your child, it would be much easier to identify his interests and dislikes. Encourage your child to take part in team activities either through scouting troops, sports or even camping trips.
A child needs to learn from a young age about how:
- being a leader involves being able to work in a group, and
- to lead that group towards a common aim.
Why not try this?
When you go to a restaurant, instead of placing orders for your children, how about slowly turning it into a simple confidence-building exercise by having your children speak directly to servers?
Allowing them to order and speak directly to servers will help them gain confidence, while encouraging them to communicate what they need.