Here’s a question for all the parents out there: What would you like to see your child to grow up into? There may or may not be a profession on your mind for your child, but you know one thing for sure. You want them to grow up to be a leader. Someone who is looked up to; someone whose word is the last word because people have learnt to trust their wisdom. Someone who can lead from the front!
Parents teach their children that it is lucrative to become a leader. Their main motivation becomes the fact that ‘Leaders have authority.’ Here is another wrongly phrased belief. If taken at face value it is the truth. But let’s think about why leaders have authority. Leaders did not reach a position to influence thoughts and actions of people in one day. It is an authority that has been extended to them over a period of time, based on their ability and decision making and concern for society.
Lots of adults grow up to regret how they are not ‘leaders’ of our current companies or even social circles. Humans intrinsically yearn to lead. What is it about leadership that makes us all obsess about it? Give it a thought.
So, what could be a few things to teach your children?
Leaders Are Created, Not Born
The statement ‘Leaders are born, not created’ depresses many a child. This is by far the most frustrating claim that can nip any signs of leadership in the bud. It casts a heavy shadow on them when they do not excel at the classroom level, ending up believing that they were not born to lead and thus, should join the herd. Teach your child the opposite, because only that is the truth.
Responsibilities of a Leader
Parents often highlight the rosier aspects of leadership. They do not instill an understanding of the unspoken of pressures of being a leader. When the child is at an impressionable age, he might be swayed by the so-called ‘advantages’ of being a leader as he is oblivious to the burdens and responsibilities attached to it. This can lead to a blunder of large proportions (consider an insensitive, power hungry adult with near dictatorial behavior).
Teach them that the masses prefer a leader who is committed to welfare of his group of friends, colleagues or even the entire community.
Leaders & Managers: Not Interchangeable Words
Here’s another thought to teach. Every leader must be a manager, but every manager is not a leader. Children are led to believing those at high positions at companies are real, powerful leaders to look up to. The difference between leaders and managers should be elucidated to avoid using these words interchangeably. Managers carry out their responsibilities through giving out instructions, delegation of tasks and exercising control. Leaders do not ‘control’ but influences actions of those in their team, treating everyone as a valued member of their community. He is constantly innovating, unlike a manager who takes the road most traveled on.
Expose Them To Problems
One huge personality deficiency develops amongst children who are raised in a very sheltered manner by their parents. This flaw is not being able to face difficulties and swim out of them successfully. It is really common to find daddy jumping into rescue his son after 24 hours of a troublesome situation, or, mommy firefighting for her daughter in a situation in the classroom. I have witnessed mothers talking things out between themselves while it’s actually their children who are having problems! They believe they are ‘protecting’ them but this is actually stopping them from developing required life skills- How to sort out an argument? How to overcome a crisis? How to clear a rumor? How to help friends in trouble? So allow your child to face troubles; he will have to sooner or later. The faster he learns, the better for him! When they do stumble, tell them ‘To Lead You Must Have Experienced Failure’. Tell them that failure is not the end of the road. They will cherish this advice when they are adults.
And here’s a bonus tip for all of you parents!
Appreciate Them in the Right Amount
It is correct to applaud your children for their achievements but I notice a different streak in Indian society. They over-applaud their children (I wonder if you have noticed as well)… By this I mean, they commend and fill their ears with praise, repeating how intelligent the child is and how proud he is to be their parent. It is always motivating to be appreciated BUT overdoing the appreciation can lead to being placed on a (false) pedestal, becoming overconfident OR even continuously yearning for praise as an adult. It’s a triple edged sword!
One thing we must remember about children- they will work towards a goal without any inhibitions, simply because they don’t have the adult attitude of “This is impossible.” Or “I can never accomplish this.” So be responsible and motivate them towards setting the right goals for their lives!