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Five Key Leadership Skills Kids Learn Before Age 10

Working in management has taught me a lot about the qualities necessary to make it in the American workplace today. Professional climate has definitely changed since the onset of The Great Recession that began around 2008, and career longevity is no longer about securing a job at a company one can stay at for 30 years.

Job candidates have had to become much more agile in order to remain competitive in the job pool, and to sustain an ever-turbulent, constantly changing job market. In order to remain employable and strategic in today’s market, there are a number of hard and soft skills job hopefuls need to have.

Something else I feel candidates should have is a strong grasp on leadership qualities. Even if you aren’t a manager at work, you can still be a leader. Even if your supervisor sucks, you can (and should) still be a leader. If you are considering entrepreneurship, you will need to know how to be a leader.

If you are a parent, you have to be a leader as well. Our children learn from us by watching the examples we show them. It is through being a parent that I have come to see the true value of leadership qualities as I’ve observed many of the same leadership traits exhibited in my own children as they seek to get along and have fun together under the same roof.

Specifically, because my daughter is the older child, I have observed her having to check herself in many of the same ways leaders do in order to reach an understanding with her younger brother. Even without siblings, (as I grew up) children can cultivate leadership skills very young.

Here are 5 leadership qualities you too can cultivate in your own children for success in leadership as they mature:

1. Compromise. The good old, “I give up something, you give up something,” dance. This one isn’t even easy as an adult, but it’s a good skill for children to grow up trying to hone. The truth is, very rarely in life do we get exactly what we want. A clear grasp on priorities, and an ability to be flexible, are both excellent foundations for leadership.

2. Patience. How better to learn patience than to try to do business with another five or six-year old? Conversely, when a young child is taught to wait for things, such as a toy from a high shelf or for their older sibling to finish a task before playing with them, they also get a lesson in learning how to be patient. Showing our children the benefits patience can bring them, such as through long-term results, can go a long way in driving this principle home.

3. Communication skills. My kids’ first preference is to yell things when they can’t get their way. I have had a lot of superiors who had the same logic. Unfortunately, the loudest person is not always the most successful; that can often earn you a negative reputation, especially at work. Yelling is a knee-jerk reaction of frustration that can reflect a lack of emotional intelligence. I think teaching kids to be emotionally intelligent early on sets them up for a happier time as they grow and prosper.

4. Strategic planning. Believe it or not, I see little ones do this all the time, especially my own. Knowing how to best approach situations in order to achieve the best possible result is the textbook way of putting it. Knowing what to ask mom for and what to ask dad for is how that translates to a child. Saving allowance and making choices about how to spend one’s time are other ways our children can learn this skill early on.

5. Teamwork. Kids have to work with other kids just as adults have to work with other adults. Sometimes, we don’t like the person we’ve been paired with for a project. Other times, we have to work hard to make sure we shine amongst a group of duds. We do not get the luxury of picking and choosing who our “team” consists of, just as our children did not pick us, their siblings, or anyone else they inherited upon being born. But growth happens when we learn to work with what we’ve been given, and learning to get along with others is part of that. I am not saying all children need to be in the running for class president, but children should learn early on that getting along with others helps make the world go ‘round.

Other honorable mentions include organization skills and learning to use inside voice. I am sure you get the point: leaders are made early on. I encourage you to embrace all that you can mold your future leaders to be by staying mindful of how these personality developments can set them up for further success later.

Antoinette is an online curriculum designer who moonlights as an author, editor, podcaster, and yogini. When she is not designing courses, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.

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