Learning to be a Leader

Have you ever been in a Starbucks drive-through when the person ahead of you pays for your drink? 

And then maybe you felt so grateful that you passed on the blessing and paid for the person behind you?  I’ve recently heard that these Starbucks chains can last hours.  One person after another after another pays for the person behind them.  

What’s crazy is that it started by one person saying, “I’m going to make their day a little brighter.”  Suddenly fifty people’s days were brighter.  

The first person started with a goal in mind, and then, little by little, many people wanted to reach that goal, too.  This is how leadership works. 

Speaking Of Leadership…

Isn’t it so much more inspiring to be LED rather than ORDERED?  Isn’t it nice to have people to look up to as mentors, as examples, as guides?  

Daily, parents are leaders to their children.  Simply doing the dishes, or apologizing for being impatient with them, or being honest are examples of leadership.  They are things that you do that your child can see, observe, and replicate.  

The scary thing is, children can also pick up all too quickly on your less-than-perfect habits.  Housework neglect, seatbelt safety, word choices, screen time – you name it. 

YIKES.

That’s a lot of power to hold.  Knowing that children will quietly observe and learn what is normal just from how you act is a big deal.  However, I’m not here to tell you how to be a better leader. 

What AM I Here To Say?

I’m asking you right now: What kind of leader do you want to see your child become? 

I’ve seen some children leaders in my life that are role model rockstars.  They set a good example, other children look up to them, and they openly care about people.  If we take a bit of time to teach children what it means to be a leader, we’ll be raising a phenomenal group of people.  

And NO, you don’t need to be a perfect parent yourself before you try to start teaching a kiddo about how to pursue leadership.  

Ready, set, go!

Topics Covered Include:

  • Our own leaders
  • Who we are leaders to
  • Traits of leadership
  • What motivates a leader 
  • Importance of making good decisions

Wait!  We Can’t Forget To Define A Leader!

A leader is an example.  It is a person others look up to with respect and awe.  It is someone who inspires others to work hard and dream big.  It is someone who leads by actions, not words.  It is someone who we support, who also supports us.  A leader is someone who stands ahead of us to guide the way, who stands beside us to support us, and who stands behind us to make sure we’re moving forward.  

“Who Do You Look Up To?”

Step 1. Ask your child who they think sets a good example.

Step 2. Ask them how (e.g., are they kind? Smart? Brave?)

Step 3.  Find out which one they think is the most important, and if they are eager to, help them build that trait within themselves.  

By doing this, they begin to understand what a leader looks like in reality.  Hopefully, this person is someone your child sees regularly, so they can get that first-hand role-modeling.  

“Who Looks Up To You?”

Talk to them about who might have the potential to see them as a leader. Does their little brother or sister watch them?  Do their friends at school follow them around?  Do their cousins look up to them?  

By helping them assess who their “audience” is, they are more able to see how they are already a kind of leader.  They are already somebody’s example.  

And now the trick is, you’ve got to teach them how to be that example responsibly.

“How Do You Think Leaders Act?”

Are leaders brave or timid?

Do they listen or do they shout orders?

Are they kind or do they only do ‘big important’ things?

Do they like attention or do they prefert to focus on getting a goal (task) done?

Are they lazy or energetic?

Do they work non-stop?  Is it okay to take breaks?

Questions like these probe children into finding what they perceive and understand to be “good” qualities versus “bad” qualities.  

Once you’ve asked them enough to make them think, you can follow up by asking them if they think they’re a good leader.  What qualities do they have?  What leader-like actions do they take?  What are some things they could be better at?

“Why Do You Think We Have Leaders?”

“Where did they come from?”  Perhaps you could explain, “Leaders happen because they find a goal, they set their eyes on it, and they take the initiative to go get it.  Some people see what that person is trying to accomplish, and they like it so much that they decide to go for it, too. Now the leader and the follower are working on a team, which is better than being alone.” 

Leaders also learn that people look up to them, people watch them, people trust them.  The leader knows that they need to make good choices so that all of these followers like to make good choices, too.  

“How Does A Leader Make A Good Decision?”

An example for children: If a friend asks you (and 3 of your buddies) to come to his birthday party at the trampoline park (before COVID-19 hit, of course), but you and those buddies had soccer practice during that time, what should you do?  Your buddies are waiting for you to decide.  They like you, so they’re going to do what you’re going to do.  Do you tell your coach sorry you can’t make it?  Do you tell your birthday friend you’re going to play soccer instead?  In this instance, the leader has to think about his commitments versus his desires.  He has to prioritize.  

In other instances, such as what car to buy (if younger siblings are along to learn), the leader may make a list of pros and cons.  One has better gas mileage, whereas the other is a lower price, etc.  Then, he can compare them, and use his analysis to make the best choice.

Can Marysville Martial Arts Teach My Child Leadership Skills?

Um, YES!

At Kung Fu 4 Kids, we believe that every student has the potential to grow into a great leader.  Everyone is encouraged to set an example of respect and kindness to those around them.  These martial arts classes for kids are an additional way to guide your child toward positive leadership.  

In fact, there is an actual team designated to learning and implementing leadership skills in all aspects of life.  This Leadership Team is designed for students age 12 or older.  

I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Back on track.  Every month, the students at Kung Fu 4 Kids get to talk about a new Powerful Word.  Our partner Robyn J. A. Silverman, Child and Adolescent Development Specialist, has created a curriculum intended to help adults teach children about concepts such as compassion, teamwork, self-control, goal-setting, and so many more. Our daily chats are an opportunity for them to hear from our teachers, share what they’ve been doing, and ask questions.   In a way, each of these ties into leadership, narrowing in on one aspect of quality skills. 

Let Me Lead You To A Close 😉

Leaders are pretty important.  I’m sure you’ve got your own way to define them.  Go for it!  Just remember that a rather crucial part of a leader is that they inspire others to work with them for something they both believe worthwhile.  

Kids love to teach others most of the time.  They like to be liked.  They like to be helpers.  Give them the tools they need to be able to do that and flourish.  They’ll thank you later, I almost guarantee it.  

Remember:

  1. Ask who their leaders are
  2. Ask who their followers are
  3. Talk about leadership traits
  4. Explain why leaders are leaders
  5. Discuss the importance of making good decisions

Healthy leaders create healthy followers.  Best case, those followers turn into leaders themselves.  Start the chain.  Buy the coffee.  Inspire others.  Start with your kiddos.