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Teaching Preschoolers 3 Leadership Principles

by Joe Lawrence | February 2nd, 2016 | Behavior, Preschool

kids playgroundI once heard that the principles of leadership are universal. They cross every cultural line and apply to anyone. I never fully realized that they also have no age boundaries and very easily apply to my preschooler as well.

Recently, I have been getting very deliberate about developing those in my organization. Those on my team are extremely high performing, hand-selected, non-commissioned officers entrusted to teach the next generation of aircraft maintainers from seven different countries and six major Air Force commands. Not trying to make a sales pitch; just laying the foundation for my opening line about the universal applications of leadership. While I have been diving deeply into doctrine and in-depth studies, I realized I already used many of these principles while raising my two little ones.

There are three areas specifically that I am focused on, and they are: clarifying roles, clarifying objectives, and performance evaluation. Starting with the clarification of roles is something that really works well. My children are told what is expected of them on a daily basis. They do not always want to fulfill the roles they are placed into, but they are learning their place on the team. For example, we are taking our dog on a walk to the park. I tell my daughter she will be the one to walk the dog, and my son is tasked with carrying the snack bag. Each person is needed to complete the task.

Then I lay out the objectives as follows. We are going to go potty, get our shoes on and get the supplies together before leaving. Once at the park, I will sit with our dog so you can play on the playground. My wife always makes fun of me because of how I lay out “the plan” with our kids. However, they know exactly what is coming next, and there are very few requests to deviate from the plan.

Lastly, there is the aspect of performance evaluation. This is something we do as parents all the time. “Stop yelling in the house.” “You are not eating very well.” Etc. We just have to be careful not to criticize them but, rather, the behavior. This is one of the most important things that we can do at the office and at home. By offering our candid opinions of how they are fulfilling their roles and meeting the objectives, we are preparing our children to be leaders in society.

Not many people can hear criticism and do something with it other than get angry. However, when we let our kids know that they need to do something better, like do not walk too fast and get ahead of the family, they learn to adjust their actions. This teaches them that the feedback does not mean they need to change; rather, they need to change their behavior. It sounds strange, but it works with toddlers the same as it does for high-performing military professionals.

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