Leadership is a big subject so some people may think, “why would you teach kids this anyway, they can’t pick it up. It’s too complex.”
In my view children can pick up the following:
- Behavioral examples - they watch everything
- Character formation - depending on their age, perhaps 80% of “leadership” for children could be regarded as becoming rather than doing.
- For children that have plenty of exposure to more fully developed adult role models (leaders) as children, these kids seem to have so much the advantage in the adult world to come. People that have become better stand out. Also consider how many organizations of adults are dealing with the lack of such becoming (development) as children? Ethics and emotional intelligence training is a response to something perceived as a cause of performance gaps. Could it be that we didn’t all become as developed as we could have as children, and we’re still growing and developing as adults?
- “Even a child is known by his doings”1
- How do we develop character in children?
- They absorb the language and terms used by role models around them - so they can pick up the language of leadership
- They already practice influencing peers and adults when they want something
- Their development capacity varies by age or maturity ranges
- Some of the premier leadership academies of the United States start with 17 to 18-year-old youth (United States military Academy at West Point, United States Air Force Academy, United States Naval Academy, and the United States Coast Guard Academy)
- The Boy Scouts start with young people at the age of 12
- News reports seem to show that street gangs start with young people too, although the documentaries on gang life show the leadership styles tend towards coercion and force instead of invitation and choice.
- They do not need positional authority to begin learning about and practicing the art of influence (leadership). * Those that rely too much on positional power are less effective leaders anyway.
These opinions are based on experience rearing many children, not empirical studies. I suspect each of these assertions could be verified later by scientific studies should someone determine to do so.
1. Proverbs 20:11