Ok… let me start with the fact that I’m biased. I love my daughter. In full disclosure, she (and her sister) were very premature. This is only pertinent because she has emotional issues. Now that I’ve placed that on the table between us, let’s push it to the corner and ignore it.
My 5 year old daughter is a leader. It’s natural to her. She’s independent, but surrounds herself with people. She’s as comfortable with adults as she is with children. Generally, she prefers hanging with kids a few years older than herself. She’s incredibly assertive. As such, she gets her way most times with other kids. While she knows what she wants, it’s not necessarily just her will power that makes it happen. Maggie does naturally what experienced leaders have learned over time.
- build a strong team
- identify their motivations
- communicate their importance or value
- provide regular feedback
Let me reference a recent trip to McDonalds. It was one of those with an indoor play area. We entered the glass enclosed sound proof room where 25 kids were reenacting Lord of the Flies. Maggie quickly ate her customary 2 fries and single nugget and disappeared into the plastic jungle of tunnels, nets and slides. Every few minutes I’d see her pick a kid out of the crowd, ask him his name, see what he was doing and tell him to follow her. Before long, the roar softened… down slid Maggie followed by the herd of kids. She shouted out “AFTER ME!” and off they went back up. “Great job!” I could hear her tell them. Later, she’d bring one of them up to me and introduce them as her “new best friend”.
I know… this is simple. But here’s the thing, she didn’t bully anyone. She convinced them they would have fun following her, doing what she wanted. She motivated, gave instruction and praised their participation. They wanted to follow Maggie. If someone had a good suggestion on going down a different tunnel, she listened and they did it.
Some days I wish I managed as well as my daughter. Other days I wish I was managed that well…