My doctor recently brought up the topic of leadership in relation to providing guidance to her high school kid.
She was curious about developing leadership skills for kids during the crucial years of their school so that they can get selected to the best college.
“Good luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity,” so why can’t we prepare for good leadership?
To be sure, developing leadership skills at this early point in your child’s life can help ensure that they will have the opportunity to:
- Utilize these skills in college
- Further develop them in their careers
- Have a better chance to be a very good, or even a great, leader in their chosen profession
Next Generation Leadership
I would like to share what I shared with my doctor and would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the subject. When we look at a very simple definition of a leader, we often say something trite like this:
“A leader is simply someone who has followers.”
But I must disagree with this oversimplification of the definition of leadership. For instance, I certainly don’t consider having 1000 Facebook friends as a sign of leadership simply because of the large number of followers.
Sure, someone like this has a lot of “followers,” but this doesn’t necessarily make them a leader.
On the contrary; I would simply say that leadership has much more to do than the number of followers one has. And this “follower” fallacy is the case for new leaders, seasoned leaders, and everyone in between.
“Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” ~Dr. John C. Maxwell
Defining it Down
So how do we define leadership qualities in a high school kid?
- Winning is good. But I always maintain that effort is the most important aspect and should not be neglected. In a competition, not every kid can win, but the effort of competing should be recognized.
- Consistency is another leadership quality be it consistency in getting good grades, dance or music program.
- Communication skills are crucial for leadership. It would be nearly impossible for a kid to excel in college interview without excellent communication skills.
- Every leader has some unique quality that sets them apart from others. Kids need to figure this strength of theirs and be able to articulate these in their essays or interviews.
- Kids also need to develop both respect for others and self-respect. Building self-esteem and self-respect is an absolute must, but it is not enough without the ability to respect others.
Acquiring Leadership Skills
Different ways in which kids can acquire leadership qualities are:
- Participating in team sports. Team sports dynamics teach kids a lot about teamwork, dealing with different personalities and most importantly about winning and loosing.
- Speaking opportunities for kids such as in speech and debate clubs or Toastmasters club is another way to develop leadership qualities. These clubs can provide skills like thinking on your feet as well as opportunities to learn from each other.
- If a kid is involved in various activities outside of school, one thing they will have to learn for sure is time management. This is a very essential aspect of a successful leader. I see that many adults find it hard to manage their time and more importantly lack the ability to prioritize tasks that they have to work on.
- Are they tackling the most important tasks first?
- Are they saying no to activities that are not important in the big scheme of things?
- Parents can definitely help kids develop this aspect by discussing their activities.
- Volunteering for different causes is a great way to learn leadership skills.
- Parents can also play a big role in developing leadership skills in their kids by empowering the kids in making their decisions. This improves their decision-making process.
- Parents should encourage discussion around role models for kids. Ask them why they think of a certain person as role model, which qualities do they appreciate in them.
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- Top 10 Leadership Qualities According to IBM (themarlincompany.com)
- Hard evidence that soft leadership skills matter (waywardjourney.com)
- 3 Dangers of Charismatic Leadership (inc.com)