8 Things Good Leaders Know


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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Teen Speak: Crime and Punishment Part 1: 3 Approaches to Disciplining Your Mancub

3 Approaches to Disciplining Your Mancub–Bleeding Hearts, Ten Commandment Enforcers and the Middle of the Road


As a mother of a teenage boy who I affectionately refer to as “Mancub”, sometimes I have to decide the best way to deal with the fact that I have been completely blown off by my beloved boy. A rule was set, and quicker than the lifespan of a two-liter of Dr. Pepper in the fridge, it was disregarded.

It becomes inevitable, dear parent, that you may have to enforce punishment upon your beloved Mancub or Watergirl. There are many extremes that can be approached here, but keep a couple of things in mind.

1. Your punishment must fit the crime. There is the far left side of punishment (Bleeding Hearts sign up here) and the far right (Ten Commandment Enforcers). I have been on both sides of this street, my friend. You must find the center, which I like to call A Happy Middle.

2. If you stray too far to the Bleeding Heart side, your punishment will likely be ineffective and frustrating. For example, your Mancub has (as we talked about yesterday) repeatedly ignored your texts/calls. What should you do?

1. Bleeding Heart Parenting

Bleeding Heart parents mean well. They are generally kind people who dislike conflict and love peace. There is a bit of Bleeding Heart in all of us.

Take the above situation, where your teenager ignored your texts/phone calls/smoke signals/neon signs.

The Bleeding Heart sighs, “Oh well…cubs will be cubs! Whatcha gonna do? Here, have a milkshake.”

Now hold on a second, you might say. Who doesn’t love a good milkshake? The line of thought here might be, “We are reasonable people. If I simply tell him my feelings about being disregarded, he will of course apologize immediately and I’m sure it won’t happen again.”

Laaateeedaaa. And you and your Mancub will skip into the golden sunset of broken promises faster than George R.R. Martin kills off the next character in “Game of Thrones.”

2. Ten Commandment Enforcer Parenting

Ten Commandment Enforcers also mean well. More authoritarian in style, TCEs worry that soggy parenting styles result in soggy kids. Maybe “soggy” is not the best word here, but you get my drift. They were likely raised by tough parents, whom they love and respect, and are trying to pass on that part of their heritage to their own kids.

Same scenario. You could not, for the life of you, contact your Mancub via the very phone YOU GAVE HIM. Much to your frustration, he gleefully ignored your many texts/calls/carrier pigeon messages.

The Ten Commandment Enforcer says, “Well, this can’t be tolerated! If I don’t nip this in the bud, Junior end up in a real-life movie set of Gangs of New York or Dangerous Minds. It’s time to bring the heat! Nothing but peanut butter (and not even the good kind–off brand) sandwiches and water for the next three meals, no screen time or electricity use, and you have to sleep in the back yard for two days while you THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DID. I’ve also signed you up for two weeks of trash pickup along Highway 271 (here’s your orange jumpsuit) so you can get used to the life you’ve chosen.

3. Happy Middle Parenting

The Happy Middle Parent lives in the middle of the street. Granted, if it was a literal street this would be a bad idea, but we’re talking figuratively. The Happy Middle Parent strives to find the middle ground between the Bleeding Heart and TCE Parent.

If the above situation happened to the Happy Middle Parent, he or she would be just as mad as the others, but would realize that neither the Milkshake punishment (which, come on–it’s only a punishment if you make it an Ensure milkshake) nor the removal of all Peter Pan peanut butter and trash detail punishment is likely to get the results we want.

The Happy Middle Parent says, “Yeah, that wasn’t cool. Since you ignored me, I will keep your cell phone for a few days to remind you that ALL GOOD THINGS COME FROM ME. I will also unplug your computer/tv/Playstation/Serta Mattress (I’m reaching here…) for the same reason.

Join the conversation:

What’s your approach when your teen ignores your texts? What has worked for you, or not worked?

A Note from the Jungle:
A note to parents: I don’t claim to have the answers. I have veered on both sides of the road, sometimes maniacally, and there’s no easy answer. You do, however want to 1. Address the problem and 2. Keep a good relationship with your Mancub. Because in the end, if you are all authoritarian and no personal investment, you’ve also messed up. If you are all warm and fuzzy and little follow through, then the message is “I don’t really care enough about you to have tense moments where I have to be the boss.”
The goal is to raise responsible, kind, funny and successful men and women and sometimes it just gets messy. Your kid is your kid and you are who you are, for better and for worse.