Leadership optimize

10 leadership skills that are child's play

You can spot some of the most important leadership qualities by watching how kids interact. Steve Tobak lists a few lessons from the playground.

Whether you realize it or not, as a child, you learned things that are fundamental to your success as a manager or leader. Here's the rub. The act of growing up probably robbed you of these precious lessons.

There are a number of reasons for that:

  • You become pragmatic and lose perspective. By necessity, adults focus on the most pressing issues and therefore sacrifice big-picture perspective.
  • You become overloaded and distracted. It's ironic, but the combination of information and communication overload and personal and professional responsibilities actually makes adults more subject to distraction than children.
  • You become jaded. Negative experience causes you to develop a tough exterior or a filter that, unfortunately, also filters out positive experience and opportunity.
  • You learn new lessons from the wrong teachers or sources.
  • You grow up. Long story short, time and experience take their toll.

At its core, success in managing and leading organizations is based on how well you know yourself and on your ability to understand others. And the most important lessons you've ever learned about yourself and others were as a kid.

Besides, if you think back, you'll remember that there were certain kids the others followed. They were natural leaders.

So, this isn't just a theoretical argument. Having grown up with hundreds of friends on the densely populated streets of Brooklyn, New York, and seeing how everyone turned out, it's relatively straightforward to figure out what worked and what didn't.

Note: This article is based on an entry in BNET's The Corner Office blog.

1: If authority is the enemy, you never get any

There's a simple, self-fulfilling irony to how people deal with authority. Kids either, at some point, realize that authority and adulthood are their future or they don't. That, in part, determines their future.

2: Network, schmooze, and tell stories

Networking, schmoozing, and storytelling are all critical skills for leaders -- on the playground, in their personal life, and in business.

3: Confrontation is constructive

Kids are constantly in each others' faces over all sorts of things. As a result, issues get resolved openly and more quickly.

4: Play nice with the other children

Seriously, getting along with others is a big-ticket item in the business and corporate world.

5: Be genuine, honest, and open

Children are honest and open by nature. But experience teaches some of them otherwise, and that doesn't bode well for their future.

6: Personality goes a long way

Humor, charisma, and confidence are all leadership attributes that resonate with children and adults alike.

7: Get the job done

The most respected and well-liked kids were good with sports, relationships, or school. They got the job done.

8: Learn to swallow your pride

There's a reason why pride is the primary deadly sin. It's true of management behavior, as well. The first big fight I remember having with a friend, my mom said, "Apologize and be the bigger person." Humility is an important leadership trait.

9: Maturity matters

There are always a handful of kids who are more comfortable in their own skin and, therefore, with others. They typically turn out well.

10: Lying catches up with you eventually

There were a few kids who, for whatever reason, developed a long-term bad habit of lying or BSing. Eventually, it does catch up with them.

10 comments
kate pary
kate pary

This is in direct rape of one of the provisions of the corporatism statute based on a constant competition within an organisation, if you are all of the hardwood floor installation above, then forget roughly assistance and advancements.

ceso_softdev
ceso_softdev

The word " leadership" and all that it stands for has been robbed of this meaning by cheap corporate values. these days almost anybody its deemed a "leader" in a corporation when it's simply being a good boss. True leaders are few and far in between ... period. with hard work, lots of couching and mentoring, you can teach people to be a good boss. but you can't teach somebody to become a leader. Leaders "are", they may rise and fall over time, they can polish their skills over time or see them decline over bad choices. but leaders just "are". you can blog about it all you want, but at the end of the day you either have it in you or you don't. I heard Lance Armtrong say one day that you can't make a Kentucky Derby champion out of a donkey. Sounds cruel but its true. Your people deserves a great boss, so work hard on that. Being a leader it's an entirely different subject.

diman75
diman75

Be genuine, honest, and open This is in direct violation of one of the provisions of the corporatism law based on a constant competition within an organisation, if you are all of the above, then forget about promotions and advancements.

diman75
diman75

Seriously, getting along with others is a big-ticket item in the business and corporate world. Yeah, in the business and corporate world it translates into ass-kissing.

Jemonaco
Jemonaco

The "Apprentice" is a popular show, I am told. The premise is ridiculous. I understand it is supposed to be a "game", but imagine a successful organization that is designed such that the individuals have incentives to undermine each other? It's like one of those Star Trek parallel universe episodes. Lip service abounds, but so much for teamwork. In my experience, items 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10 are largely absent in most large-cap organizations' leadership. I think so many of today's "leaders" have been imitating bad role models. Can you say "I smoked marijuana, but I never inhaled"? (What does that even mean?)

sparent
sparent

This article reminded me of Fulghum's All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. We all need to remember what we learned in the sandbox.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Sack management, put their kids in charge. You do know how few of those in leadership position exhibit more than two of these traits, and how welcome some up and comer who exhibited more would be....

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Go to your happy place and then you will be able to fly. No matter how "old" you get you don't ever have to grow up. Don't let anyone tell you different because they are old on the inside.

bobbyrambo
bobbyrambo

Sounds like you're saying that all leaders are good leaders or they are not leaders at all. That's one way of looking at it, but not the only way. I think every boss is a leader, though they might not be leading properly or appropriately according to the differing opinions of the followers. Anyways, the op has a pretty good list.

bobc4012
bobc4012

I thought that is what was done in the 2008 election - put a "kid" in charge! Golf, basketball and "spinning yarns" on TV when not on the court or golf course.