Eight tips for moulding leaders

by Samantha Woodhill09 Sep 2015
In a recent article for Forbes, Travis Bradberry outlined eight ways to mould your children into future leaders, helping your own leadership skills along the way.

“We can model and teach the skills that will equip them to lead themselves and others in this hyper-competitive world, or we can allow them to fall victim to the kind of thinking that makes them slaves to the status quo,” he wrote.

1. Model emotional intelligence
EQ is one of the biggest drivers of success in leadership positions, according Bradberry. Children learn emotional intelligence from their parents, important in managing behaviour and making decision that achieve positive results.

“Children are particularly attuned to your awareness of emotions, the behaviour you demonstrate in response to strong emotions and how you react and respond to their emotions,” he wrote.

“Children who develop a high level of EQ carry these skills into adulthood, and this gives them a leg up in leadership and in life.”

According to a survey by TalentSmart, 90 per cent of top-performing leaders have high EQs.

2. Don’t obsess about achievement
Obsessing about achievement doesn’t inspire the best leadership qualities in children.  Focusing on individual achievement gives the wrong idea about how work gets done, Bradberry wrote. 

“The best leaders surround themselves with great people because they know they can’t do it alone. Achievement-obsessed children are so focused on awards and outcomes that they never fully understand this.”

3. Don’t praise too much
Piling on the praise won’t increase a child’s self-esteem, which is a common parental misconception according to Bradberry.  

“Children need to believe in themselves and to develop the self-confidence required to become successful leaders, 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,” he wrote.

While showing how proud you are of achievements is a good thing, painting kids as superstars when they aren’t won’t make a future leader.

4. Allow them to experience risk and failure
Allowing kids to experience risk and failure while not over protecting them, teaches the positive consequences of taking risks.

“When you aren’t allowed to fail, you don’t understand risk,” Bradberry wrote.

“A leader can’t take appropriate risks until he or she knows the bitter taste of failure that comes with risking it all and coming up short.”

Shielding your children from failure in order to boost self-esteem won’t help them to develop the skills to cope with failure required as a leader.

5.Say no
Don’t give your children everything, Bradberry wrote.  Children need to develop patience and learn to set goals to work towards.

“To succeed as a leader, one must be able to delay gratification and work hard for things that are really important,” he wrote.

“Saying no to your children will disappoint them momentarily, but they’ll get over that. They’ll never get over being spoiled.”

6. Let children solve their own problems
When parents constantly solve problems for their kids, they don’t develop self-sufficiency, an important character trait for a leader.

“Children who always have someone swooping in to rescue them and clean up their mess spend their whole lives waiting for this to happen,” wrote Bradberry.

“Leaders take action. They take charge. They’re responsible and accountable. Make certain your children are as well.”

7. Walk your talk
According to Bradberry, authentic leaders are transparent and forthcoming, not perfect.  Their imperfections can still earn them respect and its up to you model authenticity to your kids.

“To be authentic, you must be honest in all things, not just in what you say and do but also in who you are,” he wrote. 

“When you walk your talk, your words and actions will align with who you claim to be.”

8. Show you’re human
Don’t hide your mistakes from your kids, they need to know its ok to fail and that they aren’t the only ones to make terrible mistakes.

“To develop as leaders, children need to know that the people they look up to aren’t infallible,” Bradberry wrote.

“Leaders must be able to process their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward to be better people.”

When overcome with guilt from making a mistake, it’s hard for kids to gain the skills to learn from their mistakes.