Raising Future Leaders

48% of the workforce will be millennials by the year 2020*

As a father of two young kids, I know parenting doesn’t come with instructions, you learn-as-you-go, navigating a course of action that hopefully provides a positive outcome. Never considering my training in executive coaching, psychology and organizational development would help me as a Dad; I too prodded along as a parent doing my best, hoping for the best.

I was so wrong! As I realized the fundamentals I used to develop executive leaders are the same as can be used to develop future leaders, I realized the process can start with us as parents, raising our children to be leaders.

Here are 5 valuable qualities of leadership that I believe make it a vital life skill:

  1. A positive attitude: The ability to believe in your own goals and abilities in the face of discouragement from others.
  2. Overcoming adversity: Reframing problems into “challenges” to stay focused and get over, around or through all sorts of barriers.
  3. Perseverance: Sticking to a goal – a training program, work assignment, friendship – is difficult, while quitting is easy. Leaders know when to persevere and when to quit.
  4. Commitment: Learning from mistakes rather than being discouraged by them.
  5. Excellence: Doing the best you can in every situation.

So what about our youngest leaders?

It’s never too early to start developing our next generation of leaders. Below is Part 1 of a (very) long collection of my short thoughts on teaching the fundamentals of leadership as a parent.


The true test of leaders ability lies heavily on how they navigate the unknown and deal with uncertainty. This is a daily risk for all leaders. Children are no different. Kids pretty much assume they can get what they ask for, albeit from incessant whining, complaining or earning it but what about when it doesn’t go as planned? It’s perfectly okay for a child to experience uncertainty or disappointment regarding something they want. Saying no to your child is part of being a parent; learning how to handle the letdown is theirs.

Decision Making

Leaders are asked to make all types of decisions every day, sometimes with little information to go on. It’s a critical skill and a necessity to becoming successful in a leadership type role. Giving your young ones the ability (and opportunity) to choose certain things like their clothes for school or vegetable with dinner begins this process.

Problem Solving

Although as a parent it can be heart wrenching at times to hear your child cry or see them upset but allowing them the space to be with their emotions and then find a way to work through them is truly an essential life skill.

Entrepreneur Mindset

Whenever my oldest has an idea and I can see his creativity is booming, my wife and I give him our full attention and encourage him to think through his idea. Last week he wanted to create a lemonade stand to raise money to buy him something. Being creative and innovative is part of every leader in one-way or another.

Being Accountable

Being accountable is something we all struggle with from time to time but teaching kids the concept of “showing up” is one of the most important life lessons. When my oldest decided one-day he no longer wanted to continue on a sports team he was on, we asked him to think about his teammates and what they may feel, should he quit. The good news is that he didn’t quit and his team went to win the championships.

Being Visionary

Some of the greatest leaders possessed some of the greatest visions. Their ability to see something in a way others couldn’t make them truly innovative. Kids are hardwired to think big and have visions of what could be. If your child sees something or believes in something that he/she wants to create, empower them to move forward.

Speaking Powerfully

The ability to speak powerfully, not loudly is an art. Great leaders understand and practice this daily. As a parent, there are many ways in which you can practice confident communication. We learned early on that going out to dinner and having our kids ask the server directly what they would like to eat or drink helped build their confidence and communication skills.


Sometimes showing up is half the battle while other times it’s the whole thing. Admitting when you are wrong and owning up to something that you are at a fault takes a big heart and strong mind. As a parent, the easiest way to illustrate this lesson to your kids is to model this behavior in front of them. Simply put, admit when you are wrong or at fault.


Final thoughts: Last March, I wrote an article called You Are A Role Model, Now Act Like It and in it I layout the importance of being present around your kids and those who look up to you because in the end, people will remember how you made them feel versus what you did and what you said.

The floor is yours: What’s one leadership quality a young kid should learn & how would you teach them?

With leadership, Joshua | www.JoshHMiller.com | “I Call Bullshit: Live Your Life, Not Someone Else’s