"Power shows the man." Sophocles
NURTURING THE LEADER:
In the last post(24), we listed points on how to help the child succeed. Here, we shall take up the very important facet of 'leadership'. Is there a duplication? Let an example clarify the point. In the cricket-world, Sachin Tendulkar is acclaimed as the Master Batsman. His success in rewriting the record books, is common knowledge. But is he Captain material? Going by records, he is not. He is successful as a batsman, but not as a leader. We should teach out children to be truly successful leaders, because the world is populated with Pretenders and Power-Brokers who pass off as leaders. They tend to acquire power through foul means and parade such power with impunity. Self-gratification, through the exercise of power, is their aim. They confuse leadership with the accumulation of power. Sophocles warns us that the way a man uses power, shows us who he really is.
When teachers were asked to list qualities they spotted in children who had leadership skills, they put down the following:
a) They are confident; others are willing to follow their lead.
b) They felt good about themselves; and made others feel good.
c) They had questioning minds; took initiatives; were enthusiastic/good-humored.
d) They treated adults and peers with respect.
d) They were not clinging but sharing; even with their toys.
1) The first thing children should learn about leadership is to have Courage of Conviction. They should be ready to stand up for what they believe, against odds, and live up to standards they set for themselves. e.g.,If they believe that cheating in a test paper is wrong, they should not cheat, no matter how strong the temptation, or how easy it is. By standing up, they will be faithful to themselves and to the promises they make to others.
2) A good leader is a 'we' person; not an 'I' person. So, he believes in team work, is ready to take and share responsibility, is happy in the success of his team fellows, will give them a large share of credit when the team succeeds and take upon himself a large share of the blame, when the team fails.
3) He will learn to be thoughtful and considerate of others and view their mistakes with compassion, not accusation, and be calm even in difficult situations. Because of his 'others-attitude' he will respect and carefully listen to ideas others have to offer.
4) He will immerse himself fully in what he does. Take a sieve and pour water on to it; the water drains out. Throw the sieve into the ocean. Water does not drain out because it is immersed in the ocean. When the child learns to immerse himself in what he does, he not only sets an example to others, but also does not let distraction drain his energy. He stays focused. A leader cannot lose focus or enthusiasm. His enthusiasm must energize others into following him and doing common things uncommonly well.
5) Every time he confronts an obstacle, pose him this question: "What if you tried to do it differently?" That will prompt him to try something new and look at obstacles as opportunities.
6) Look for ways to encourage, praise and make him feel good. In turn, he should try to make others feel good by thanking and praising them. The habit will work wonders for his personality - he becomes charismatic; others are drawn to him.
Ultimately, it will be his strong character that will make him stand out. In Mexico, the Jail Warden of a high security prison was respected even by the prisoners for his upright conduct and sense of fairness. One day a prisoner escaped from prison.
The warden tried to apprehend the escaped prisoner, but failed. Promptly he accepted full responsibility for the lapse in the prison-security and agreed to become an inmate of his own prison, to serve the unfinished sentence of the escaped prisoner.
CAUTION: Children will learn from parents. So, before teaching children how to be leaders, parents better learn how they can be successful leaders. We cannot give what we don't have. The sad plight of children growing up with parents who lack leadership skills is a harsh commentary on the poor example such parents set.