A parent sits in the family room and, if they are lucky, watches their teenager walk into the room, traipse around and sit on the couch to watch television. After a night at a seminar where the parent learned about student leadership, why it is important, and the characteristics that a student leader should have, the parent glances toward the teen eagerly, gripping the arm of the sofa tighter and then loosening. The parent curls their lips preparing to speak before surrendering back into their television show.
The number one question that I get asked by parents is "How do I start showing my child how to be a leader?" Well that may be the number two question right behind "What makes you think my child is not already a leader" to which I respond that the child very well may be a leader, but that all of us have tremendous opportunities for growth and improvement.
The answer to the question is not always the easiest to deliver. There are a number of issues that come in to play but the most important is the issue regarding the relationship between the parent and their child.
At most of our seminars, we are blessed to find committed parents with a tremendous amount of dedication to their child and their development. However, even some of those parents do not have a communicative relationship with their child and have great difficulty finding a comfortable place to talk to their student, much less teach and mentor them.
Teaching your child the techniques of leadership can be done more easily than sitting them down, holding a lesson, and giving them homework. A parent should always consider their relationship with their child as one that is of example and should lead their child towards their leadership development in much the same way. Getting your child to learn the techniques of influencing others should be a goal sought not unlike the goals that you are teaching your child to accomplish.
There are three specific considerations that a parent needs to incorporate in order to get your child to start moving towards leadership skills that they have not previously had. But more importantly, it moves you both towards a more healthy mentoring and communicative relationship that will grow your student towards a more productive future.
Communicate the benefits
Most students are led every day and don't realize it. They watch their friends get asked to take positions or being promoted to positions of leadership and either be jealous or have no real feelings about the occurrence.
Your student could have every characteristic needed to be a leader, and until they start to seek positions of influence, will not find the benefits on their own. So, communicating the benefits of leadership positions to your student can be the most important step in getting your student leader to take the reins.
These are just a few methods that can be used to communicate the benefits to your student.
- Be direct and specific.
- Reference a friend who leads.
- Take up the benefits yourself.
The last method mentioned here may not be the most clear or obvious. When you as a parent or teacher begin experiencing the benefits of leadership, whether those benefits be meeting important people, speaking at meetings, or just being more effective at home, your student will see the benefits through action.
Next Wednesday, we will approach the next method for getting your student started as a leader.