Even born leaders need some training

By Susan Pohorski

Some children are born leaders, others need to be encouraged and developed into leadership. Your child may be the one who is always organizing friends to play a game, go on an adventure or put on a play. However, some would say even those individuals can benefit from leadership training and development.

Recent research identified a certain gene that seems to show up in people who have supervisory roles. Dr. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, lead researcher says leadership “should still be thought of predominantly as a skill to be developed.”

Steven I. Pfeiffer, professor in the Psychological Services in Education Program and director of clinical training in the doctoral program in counseling psychology and school psychology at Florida State University, suggests the following ways to allow a child to practice and refine leadership:

  • Learn about and discuss examples of leaders. Actual leaders and fictional leaders can provide examples for your child. Who are the leaders in his or her favorite books, movies and television shows?
  • Volunteer work offers youth the opportunity to observe model, and practice leadership skills.
  • Mentoring relationships with community leaders also provide young people with opportunities to observe and learn leadership.
  • Summer leadership courses offered by colleges, camps, Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts are great chances to develop young leaders.

High school students learn leadership through group projects and participation in student clubs and government. If your teen has indicated an interest in leadership you may want to consider technical college as the next step for them. Wisconsin’s technical colleges offer many ways to develop leadership skills through:

  • Group projects
  • Leadership training
  • Student government
  • Clubs and extra-curricular activities
  • Courses in Leadership

Adrian Holtzman pursued many leadership opportunities while earning a Liberal Arts degree at Madison College.

“I wanted to be a role model. I wanted to get involved in student life and leadership roles,” Adrian said. He served as leader on a winter break service learning project, lobbied in Washington with the college president, and served as an ambassador for his college. A 4.0 student, Adrian was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the honor society for two-year college students with chapters worldwide.

Adrian transferred to U.W. – Madison and plans to study risk management in the School of Business. Currently, he is assistant director for the press office of the Associated Students of Madison and is campaigning to become the representative from Letters and Science for 2014-2015.

I’m not saying that every child should be groomed for leadership. However, if you see potential for leadership in your child you may want to share your observations and encourage him or her to explore the possibilities.

What has been your experience with your child(ren)?