It’s never too early - or too late - for parents and adults to teach the basics of leadership to kids. However, leadership for kids is a subject that isn’t considered as often as it should be - perhaps because we still aren’t clear on what leadership really means.
Is leadership inherent? Are kids “born leaders”? Or can they learn leadership skills throughout their lifetime?
“Leadership is learned behavior,” Susan Kuczmarski, EdD, author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go, told New York Parenting magazine. “It is developed through experience. The most effective way of learning leadership is through doing.”
Kuczmarski went on to outline six qualities that are often found in leaders: Honesty, respect for others and their opinions, superb communication skills, decisiveness, courage, and confidence.
Leadership is a big priority here at the Boys & Girls Club of the Pikes Peak Region. We live and breath leadership through a number of acclaimed programs, including Torch Club, Keystone Club, and our annual Youth of the Year award.
Torch Club: Kids aged 11- to 13-years-old love Torch Club. This chartered small-group leadership and service club supports its members as they work together to plan and implement activities in four areas: service to Club and community, education, health and fitness and social recreation.
Keystone Club: Specifically designed for older kids - specifically, teenagers 14- to 18-years-old. Club members participate in activities in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service. With the guidance of an adult advisor, Keystone Clubs aim to have a positive impact on members, the Club and community.
Youth of the Year: Finally, Youth of the Year is the Boys & Girls Club premier recognition program. Established in 1947, this annual award recognizes kids who promote service to Club, community and family; have a record of academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability.
What does it mean to be a leader? Here at the Boys & Girls Club, we thought of a few important traits:
Seeing the Big Picture
Kids who can look at the big picture have a better chance at keeping things in perspective. This means not getting hung up on the small stuff. Looking at the big picture can keep eyes on long-term goals, rather than short-term detours.
Being proactive, and not reactive, is a tough leadership trait not only for kids, but for people of all ages. Proactive people take charge and take action without relying on others.
Respecting Yourself and Others
No one can give you self-respect - that’s a trait we all must find deep within ourselves. When you respect yourself and others, you afford people a sense of caring and admiration that they will hopefully reciprocate.
Integrity is a tough one - what does it mean to have integrity? Most people think of honesty and moral uprightness when they hear “integrity.” But that doesn’t mean we are all perfect - integrity can also be found in the small things.
Leaders are true to themselves through the easy day-to-day and the hard situations. Whether that means pursuing your passion or speaking your mind, being authentic to yourself is a huge part of being a leader.
People hate change, and so we tend to find it extremely hard to be flexible. But when your chosen path isn’t working, sometimes it pays to be flexible - to evaluate other options and look at different outcomes.
Thank you for reading,
James Sullivan III, President & CEO
Posted on 1/25/2014 at 5:00:00 PM