developing young leaders

Developing leaders has a lot of parallels to developing a 3 year old.

For the past fifteen years, I have been honored, humbled and happy to professionally coach and develop leaders from all over the world. Along the way, I have learned a great deal about what drives people to act, as well as, to stop in their tracks. When I decided to sit down and write this article, I was curious just how many “leadership development models” existed and much to my surprise – in less than .39 seconds, there was over 9 million results. I then decided to Google “parenting models” and in less than .46 seconds, there were close to 2 million results.

As the proud father, dad and co-founder of the greatest son on the planet (insert biased humor), this got me thinking…

At what age does leadership development begin? And more importantly, what can I take from my professional life and apply it to being a parent.

Children don’t come with instruction manuals and I am challenged daily regarding modeling great behavior, being impeccable with my word and of course not beating myself up through the process. Let’s face it; being a parent is one of the toughest (and most rewarding) jobs on the planet.

So what fundamental leadership lessons work to support growth and development in anyone and help parents develop future leaders?

Here are the 3 core lessons in leadership:

1) The Yes Factor
Leaders as well as children learn quickly that in life, there will always be people who tell them they can’t do or be something. It’s easy to take this to heart and lose site of your own personal goals, whether it’s learning to ride a bike or asking for a raise. A leader learns to remain positive; stay focused on the goal and be willing to stand up for what they believe in.

  • Lesson: Teach and model what a “Yes I can” attitude looks like and the
    power of being positive.

2) The Glass Half Full 

Leaders as well as children are faced with problems on a daily basis. Well, what if they weren’t problems but rather opportunities to grow and develop. Challenges are just that….opportunities for growth.

Children and adults will say, “I can’t” when they are unsure about what’s being asked of them. This is normal and it’s also an opportunity for you to support them in not giving up. A simple reframing of the situation can allow that “power of yes I can” attitude flourish.

  • Lesson: Teach them to be curious in asking questions and creative in
    discovering solutions to their challenges and the value of the
    lessons to be learned.

3) The Power of Perseverance
It’s easy to give up or simply stop when the going gets tough. Quitting is an easy out and in fact, a habit we learn at a young age. We all know that the easiest path doesn’t always prove to be the best. And building positive confidence and self-esteem will come from the power of persevering.

  • Lesson: Teach them the importance of not quitting but rather pushing
    through in the face of adversity or uncertainty.


Final Thoughts:

I realize there are many many more and this is by no means the next “happiest toddler on the block” chapter to leadership development but rather a reminder on what we should be teaching or at best be aware of when it comes to developing another persons leadership skills.

Your turn: What is one lesson you learned growing up that you now apply as a leader in your professional life?