Encouraging Leadership in Children

By: Mark J Emslie

Children are fascinating to watch in the way they interact with each other whether in the playground or at home. The dynamics may vary, but some will follow what the group do, others will spend their time causing problems between children, but some will stand out by helping their comrades. These other children that will be tomorrow's leaders, help by setting the right example, or simply explaining situations to their friends less able to deal with them. These are true leadership qualities.

The Drive for Leadership

For many the drive for leadership is intuitive, something they are simply born with. They know how to inspire trust from those around them. Others may try to learn the characteristics of leadership by issuing orders and striving to be the best at what they do. But this does not necessarily imply effective leadership.

Leadership requires an understanding of the greater goals or purpose, as well as trust and example setting. As children, then natural leaders will be those who assume initiative when ever the opportunity arises. They will involve themselves in organising local events for example, come up with ideas for fundraising, and are generally and helpfully creative.

Natural born leaders know how to make the best of what is around them, recognising the skills of their peers and applying them in an effective and productive way. Such leaders will not necessarily have the best skill set of those around them, but will enable others to realise their potential and contribute more meaningfully to the whole.

Leadership - Applying the Role

Simply pushing someone towards the role of leader does not mean that they will be a good or effective leader. The title itself means little unless they have earned it and the respect of those around them. To use the analogy of the Boy Scout movement, then the attainment of the merit badge does not mark that boy out as a future leader by itself. But one destined for leadership may have managed to put together his own project, involved local shopkeepers and others in funding it. It is this initiative, good planning, and sense of purpose that marks out a true leader at any age or status. That same boy is unlikely to need any further active encouragement given such an outlook on life; leadership will be a natural response to the world around him.

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