I am always looking for opportunities to teach my son about leadership. As a college professor and professional in the community, it is my job to lead others on a daily basis. So many times we assume kids learn this trait by osmosis, but that’s not always true. Of course, we should always do our best to model good leadership as a parent and someone they are always watching, but it’s more than just that. Here are 8 things I’ve learned about being a leader and what I want to pass on to my kids.
8 Things Leaders Know
- How to treat others. If you don’t know how to be kind and polite, then you are not a leader, you are a bully. A leader must be respectful to others, even those who have nothing to give back to them. Say please and thank you. There’s no excuse for rudeness. A good leader does not need to be brash.
- How to be assertive, not abusive. There’s a difference between assertive and bossiness. Being assertive is more about not letting others push you around or talk you out of the right thing. It’s confidence with grace.
- When to say no. A good leader does not take on too many projects at once, because she knows that she is only one person and it’s difficult to do a good job when you are spread too thinly. There are only so many hours in the day, and we have to remember that each commitment takes up one more slice of our precious time that might be more wisely allotted.
- When to step in. Sometimes, nobody asks you to be a leader, even when it’s plainly obvious that one is needed. Many times, others don’t see the need, or else are afraid to take on the task. If you are qualified and you see a position that needs filling or a problem that you can solve, the worst that can happen is that someone tells you no thanks. There are times when this is more urgent than others. For example, if you are in the grocery store and an elderly man falls over clutching his chest, and you know CPR you MUST step in and help him. If you don’t know CPR, this is not the chance to practice by any means, but statistics prove that many people just freeze up during emergencies. Maybe you don’t know CPR but you have your phone on you and you call 911. This is stepping up. This is solving a problem—leadership.
- When to not step back. There are other times when we, as leaders, really want something that we know deep down we are not qualified for. A good leader will wait until he or she is ready. They will procure the proper training, or talk to someone knowledgeable. They will take the next step towards their goal. They will not give up.
- How to not burn bridges. Many people, when leaving a place of employment, do so with a blaze of glory—Tweeting, posting on Facebook, etc. all of their personal grievances that caused them to quit (or be fired) in the first place. This is a bad idea. A leader never burns bridges; instead, she tries to make peace with those she’s leaving behind. You never know when your paths might cross again.
- How to admit your mistakes and apologize effectively. Leaders are only human. Mistakes are going to happen. A leader does not make excuses or blame others when she makes a mistake. A leader apologizes immediately, accepts blame, and asks how to make things right.
- Never, ever do the bare minimum that’s expected. Always give 110%. Leaders are never lazy.
Think I’ve missed something? What do you think makes a good leader? Comment below!
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