There are two kinds of people in this world, leaders, and followers. As parents, we should want to be all about raising leaders, we should want them to be the ones who are doing the influencing instead of the ones being swayed by others all the time.
Unfortunately, some people think that unless you are a “born leader” you cannot truly step into leadership. While it’s true that some have traits that make it easier for them to take on a leadership role, the fact of the matter is that all of us can be leaders. You see, being a leader simply means that you are a person of influence, and that is something everyone can strive for.
If you want your child to be someone who influences others and you’d like to nurture that leadership spirit in them, then there are all sorts of books, podcasts, and courses you can take that will give you some great ideas on how to do just that.
But I am going to tell you that the absolutely best way for you to teach your child to be a leader is to show them how. Not by being a tyrant or commando, not by being a cheerleader and motivator.
The BEST way to help your children become leaders is to be a leader yourself, and the best place to start with that is by leading yourselves.
In his book Developing the Leader Within You 2.0, John Maxwell explains that “leading ourselves is often the most difficult task we face every day. It’s much easier to tell others what to do that to do it ourselves.”
It’s much easier to tell your kids to work hard, be honest, show compassion, stop fighting–and a lot of other good character traits–than it is to do it ourselves.
What exactly does it mean to lead yourself as a parent?
Start by Prioritizing Yourself
Leadership expert Jeff Boss explains that leading yourself means that you prioritize yourself and listen to yourself. This may sound selfish, especially to parents, who are always busy with their kids and work, and who often feel overwhelmed by the demands.
How often do you take time to get some solitude or work on yourself inwardly?
One of the misconceptions about solitude is that making time for yourself is selfish; that there are things to do, people who depend on you and if you don’t fulfill your responsibilities, then you’re letting them down.
But the fact of the matter is that if everything stops because you are not helping, then what does that say about your leadership?
If your kids can’t find clean clothes because you are the only one who does the laundry, or if they can’t do their chores without you around to remind them or show them what to do, then you as a leader/parent are doing them a disservice. Being a good leader role model does not mean you are always there and are always telling them what to do; it means that you are letting them learn how to lead themselves, because that’s where leadership has to start.
Parents must get over the guilt they feel for taking some time for themselves–whether it’s times of solitude, study or just focusing on yourself–when you take time for yourself, you are leading yourself and at the same time, you are showing your kids how to lead themselves.
Boss also explains that it’s important for people who want to lead effectively to leverage mentorship.
Whether it’s a coach or a mentor, nobody can think of all the alternatives on their own. Everybody needs to have their perspective challenged because that’s where growth occurs. After all, you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that instigated that problem in the first place, and as much as I’d love to claim credit for that quote, it’s not mine—it’s Einstein’s. Mentors can help guide you when you’re at a crossroads and share with you what worked and what didn’t when they were in a similar situation, letting you come to a conclusion on your own.
Part of the job of leading yourself means that you recognize when you need guidance or assistance. Pride is what prevents parents from getting the support they need.
Going for counseling means they are weak.
Getting coaching means they are not doing a good job at parenting.
Seeking out a mentor means they are not wise enough to parent their kids on their own.
FALSE, FALSE, and FALSE again!
Getting counseling, coaching or mentoring means that you simply want to move forward; it does not mean you are a mess or a failure as a parent.
Professional athletes have coaches and they already have amazing talent. They want coaches so that they can continue to push themselves to improve, not because they are terrible athletes.
A true leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. (John C. Maxwell)
As a parent, this is the type of leadership you must have in front of your children if you want them to become leaders. Show them how to lead by first leading yourself to be the kind of example they need to see in all areas of life.