How to Instil Leadership Qualities in Teenagers

 We all want our children to do well at school; we provide them with umpteen tutors, have them participate in several extra-curricular activities like sports/music, just so it looks on their college applications. What a lot of us forget is that, it is imperative kids also learn how to make sound decisions, how to collaborate well with others, and how to solve problems creatively. There is no point in our kids excelling at school, but not having the necessary leadership qualities that will help them have a better handle on their lives.

Why are Leadership Skills Important?

Leadership skills are essential for teenagers so that they have the courage to stand up for themselves, to have a voice of their own, and face tough challenges with a stable head and positivity.  It has been observed that children with strong leadership skills are less influenced by negative societal influences or undue peer pressure, and are more likely to have a higher happiness quotient in life.

 Ways to Instil Leadership Skills

 Like any life skill, it takes practice and persistence to teach kids leadership skills. While adults can get several opportunities to practice leadership skills at workplace, teachers, parents and caregivers need to put a bit more thought about creating the necessary opportunities for teenagers to practice and hone their leadership skills.

Here are a few ideas for those who are managing teenagers:

1. Involve Kids in Project Management - Most of the parents are likely to have many planned events that they need to prepare for, during the course of the year. It works wonders to involve children during the planning process of such events. You may start treating each event like a grand project, hold planning discussions with your kids and delegate different tasks to them. For instance, if you are preparing for an anniversary celebration, you can have youngsters help decide the menu, ascertain the theme, or zero down on the venue/location. This will allow kids to have a real life experience with project management.  


2. Make it Entertaining- Sit and watch a movie with your teen and talk about the movie beyond the typical storyline. Discuss which all characters in the movie demonstrated leadership and how. You can have the same discussion by having them read some popular books and biographies or binge on some crazy web series together.


3. Use Activity-Based Learning- Games are another fun way to instil leadership skills in children. Here are some activities that teachers, parents or caregivers can use to educate the teenagers:

•    Listening Game - This game can help sharpen one’s active listening ability. Tell your student or child to spend an entire day only listening to others. They shouldn’t be allowed to talk about themselves. The game will help them become ‘others-minded’ and show them how to understand others instead of just looking at everything from a ‘self-perspective’.  Active listening i.e. listening coupled with clear understanding is a great foundation for relational leadership.

•  Lead the Blindfolded Game–  This game can help enhance communication skills and also harps on the importance of good communication for leaders.  You can do this activity at classroom or in a nearby playroom. Divide kids into 2 groups and ask all but one from each group to wear the blindfolds. The non-blindfolded member needs to lead the team across the room by providing clear commands. The team that successfully reaches the end of room the fastest, wins. You can educate the teams on the positives and also focus on how could they have communicated differently to achieve more efficient results.


4. Foster Negotiation Skills - Model negotiation skills in everyday life. Don’t end a conversation or request with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For every request, make an offer and allow your teenager to come up with a counter-offer backed by solid rational reasonings/arguments.  Not only will this show them various fair ways to win an argument, it will also help them think creatively.

5. Encourage Frequent Decision-Making - Allow teenagers to make several decisions backed by some research. Have them weigh pros and cons of each option to help them make the most informed decision possible. For instance, task them with the decision of planning a week of their autumn break, or have them pick a hotel for the trip during summer vacation (furnish your criteria for selection of hotel beforehand). Provide feedback as to whether their decision was good or needed improvement. Even if the decision proves to be wrong, don’t let failure deter them from making decisions.


6. Focus on Personalised Conversations - In order to instil confidence in youngsters, it is imperative to allow them the opportunity to have plenty of conversations with people beyond family and friend circle. Teach them to maintain eye contact while talking with others and respect other people’s words and opinions. Allow them to speak directly to servers at restaurants to order dinner, have them thank the workers they meet with regularly like grocery store staff, school administrative staff, or cleaners in the building. Model this behaviour yourselves as parents and the kids will automatically follow;  for instance, you may start to greet the workers you meet everyday with their names.


7. Pick Up Card or Board Games -  Mark a night each week wherein the family can get together and play a board game such as monopoly, chess, or even card games. Such games foster a spirit of cooperation, healthy competition, strategy and creativity; all of which are needed to be a successful leader.


8. Make Goal Setting Interesting - What better way to teach goal setting to kids than using vision boards. Have them cut out pictures from magazines, download jazzy pictures from the web, and make a collage out of it. Not only will this reiterate to them having goals is important, it will also activate their ability to think clearly and visualise what they want to achieve in future.


9. Ingrain the Importance of Perseverance - You may see your teens struggle with some of their key projects. It is easy for us adults to jump in and save them the trouble by fixing their matters, but we must avoid doing that. Letting children learn from their mistakes, yet standing beside them and cheering them to the end goal, is far more important than fixing it for them. Perseverance is much more critical than quick fixes. Upon project completion, you may tell them what they could have done differently and achieved a better/faster result.

No matter what profession or career they take up, kids will have to work with other people. They will need to be considerate towards others, and work in a collaborative manner with their team members. There might be people in future who will pull them down, there will be challenges; the only way to counter it is to have self belief and positivity. If they are able to pick up solid leadership skills during their teenage years, it can go a long way in helping them lead a successful life wherein their relationships and sense of self are well taken care of.

Hopefully the above ideas have proved to be helpful.
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