Being a good leader is a valuable skill no matter how old you are—whether you’re in school or the workplace. But not everyone has innate leadership qualities. That’s why it’s important to teach kids early on how to develop the skills to be a good leader.

Being a leader will help kids build confidence and succeed in activities like group projects, team sports, clubs, etc. And these skills will only continue to benefit them as they grow older.

What Defines a Great Leader

Melissa King, a K¹² Senior Curriculum Specialist, knows what leadership skills look like:

  • The ability to instill in others a sense of wanting to go the extra mile to provide for the greater good of a team.
  • Inspiring people to be better tomorrow than they are today and help the team focus on what matters most in life.
  • The ability to communicate, understand, and assist followers. Assisting does not mean it always has to be positive, but can include constructive criticism.
  • Willingness to take risks and be courageous.
  • Having insightful, clear visions of targeted goals.

How to Teach Kids to Be Leaders

There are a number of ways to develop leadership skills in children:

  • Help them learn to see different viewpoints in a situation, which will be helpful when trying to manage multiple opinions in a group setting.
  • Teach them to set goals and always try to do their best at everything.
  • Help them maintain a positive attitude—even when others make things difficult or tell them they can’t achieve something.
  • Teach them that mistakes will always happen and are a natural part of life—and not to let the mistakes beat them down. Instead, teach them to ask themselves what they can learn from each situation.
  • Enroll kids in extracurricular activities to give them the self-confidence needed in order to lead people both as a kid and as an adult.
  • Let them make decisions. Start out small, such as letting them choose food in a grocery store. As they get older, they can start making more difficult decisions, like how to spend their money.

Try out some of these activities to enhance leadership lessons and really bring out kids’ leadership skills:

While everyone agrees that leadership skills are important for kids, there is the fear that they may become bossy. That’s why the Ban Bossy campaign was created in March, which focuses on girls being seen as leaders instead of bossy. Learn more about the campaign here.

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