Building Leadership in Kids

Leadership, to me, is the ability to assess a situation, form a plan, then help facilitate others to execute that plan with you. It's not just about 'being the boss' - or the one giving instructions - it's also about having the confidence and the vision/knowledge to be the one others are looking to for guidance.


My kids are chalk a cheese, personality-wise. Both are extremely outgoing, a highly likely to wander up to anyone to say hello and ask them their name. On their own, one is timider, one is less inhibited – to the point of wandering off by herself and getting lost. Regardless, I am keen to build leadership potential into both of them!

Both though, have their moments of taking charge (sometimes pushy, sometimes a bit gentler) – and it’s important to me to try and impart a little of the responsibility of being the one who is leading. Building leadership in my kids is not just about ‘being a leader’.

Again, as it often does, headed into the bush provides a simple and effective way of doing that.

I have been getting both girls out separately for bush walks. Recently we all headed out, and I noticed, that my younger one started taking the lead (she had been down the particular path recently) and showing us all which way to go. As I noticed this, I let her take the lead more and more, including getting a little lost (overshooting a track). When that happened, instead of jumping in and redirecting us all, I let her go a little way, realise she was off the track, and when she started getting concerned, asked her how she might get back on the track. A little more guidance was required – “do you think it might help if we walked back the way we came and see if we could find the track again?” – and we soon picked up the path and were on our way again.

Asking questions, or, maybe more correctly, framing my suggestions as questions, lets them ‘come to the correct decision’, though sometimes, letting them also come up with the wrong solution is also the correct path to building leadership attributes in the kids.

I think there is definitely a guiding career in the future for one of my girls at least! More than once, she has happily directed people at the zoo, park, supermarket in the direction they may, or may not be trying to find. So it’s a case of nurturing the inner drive to do so, while providing her with some techniques and methods to be successful, and safe, in doing so.

5 Easy Ways To Building Leadership in Kids

Encourage them to blaze their own trail

My children are not mini-me’s – they are their own little self contained units, with their own motivations, desires, loves and hates. Sure, we help frame their world through our modelling of actions and reactions to things, but it’s a bad path to try and force them into a particular future – as countless rebellions against parents have shown. Ask them what they want to do, then provide them the framework to succeed at it.

Surround them with Leaders

You are the average of the people you surround yourself with. The same is true of your kids. While you don’t want to be vetting their friends, you can try to have people in their life they can learn from, people that are the experts in whatever field the kids might show an interest in. There is also an important lesson for us in here – we don’t have to know everything! Our kids might view us as the all-knowing, all-seeing entity in their life – but the reality is, we don’t, we don’t have to – and showing our kids that we can ask for help, in any aspect of life is a very, very important life lesson.

Encourage Perseverance

It is hard to watch your kids fail, it’s even harder not to jump in and try to save them. But, learning to fail, learning to then get back up and try again, is a much more important lesson.

One of the best skills you can teach your child is the ability to regroup and move forward.

Give them Choices

Do you want your kids to eat something healthy? Don’t force carrot sticks on them. Give them the choice between several healthy options. Sure – you are limiting the decisions right down for them, but it’s their choice. This both gives them a sense of agency, and, allows you to frame their decision-making process positively.

Encourage Communication and Action

Get them to explain what they are planning on doing, then let them do it. This both gives you a bit of a heads up (and gives you a moment to ‘suggest’ a few things) but also gets them comfortable with explaining their plans and method of execution. Communication, in all things, is critical to forming a strong bond between parents and kids, and lack of communication is often the root of a lot of problems.

15 Tips for Building Leadership in Kids