4 Leadership Lessons We Can Learn from Children

By Addison Jenning

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Experience teaches a lot of valuable lessons on how to deal with different people, work with a team and manage a project. But we also tend to lose some valuable lessons we learn as children. Kids have a natural instinct when it comes to leadership.

Whether they’re on the playground or in the classroom, their groups and leaders develop organically. Perhaps we would do well to pay attention to the lessons they can teach us from time to time.

1. Let It Come Naturally

Children rarely fuss about choosing leaders. They emerge naturally, without any effort. And somehow, everyone agrees about who the leader is (though children in the group might be reluctant to admit it).

The kids who are most likely to emerge as leaders are those who are always willing to lend a helping hand. They are the ones who try to find solutions, propose new games, and mediate conflicts.

As adults, we tend to think this is what a leader must do once they’ve been given the authority. But children teach us that these things are what makes a leader, in fact.

In a work environment, you probably already have established leaders and managers. Beyond that, you shouldn’t try to force your authority on the other team members.

As social creatures, we naturally seek out hierarchies within our group. Practicing these natural leadership behaviors may help you stay in charge if you’re not the boss.

2. Establish Rules and Stick to Them

Numerous studies show how important it is for children to play games and to make up rules on their own. Watching children playing games can be absolutely fascinating. What’s more, we can vaguely remember playing those games ourselves. How did we know the rules? Who made them up?

To a certain extent, each group tends to make up the rules on the fly as the game unfolds. But what’s so interesting about kids when they play games is that they all stick to the rules once they are established.

That’s what makes these games work. Once everyone agrees on the rules, they will no longer change mid-play. Children might revise or adapt rules, but never in the middle of the game.

This consistency is what makes everything works. It’s up to the leader of a group to make sure everyone observes the rules they agreed upon. And most importantly, they cannot use their authority to bend the rules for their purposes.

This passion is going to help you inspire your team members to make the most out of the workday, see every new task as a learning opportunity, and embrace work with joy and enthusiasm.

3. Have Fun Outside Your Comfort Zone

Leadership Lessons from Children

Every new activity a child starts is going to be outside their comfort zone. Since they have little life experience, children don’t possess the same ability to predict possible outcomes as adults do. When you look at it from this perspective, you realize that children are real risk-takers.

And you can see from the way in which they set about performing a new activity that this sense of wonder and risk can be extremely rewarding.

As adults, once we’ve established our comfort zone, it’s very hard to move out of it. As a leader, you might feel even less inclined to do so. But taking risks is the essence of progress.

So when you find yourself stuck in a rut, try to forget everything you know about a particular situation and see as if it were for the first time. Take this challenge as a fun, new learning experience rather than a problem that has to be solved.

It’s the only way you can find new and better solutions to old problems. It will also help you keep your enthusiasm and sense of wonder high years after you’ve been in the field.

This passion is going to help you inspire your team members to make the most out of the workday, see every new task as a learning opportunity, and embrace work with joy and enthusiasm.

4. Never Stop Asking Why

Probably during the school years, we tend to stop asking ‘Why?’. And when we do, it feels as if we are criticizing the other person. Many people actually use this question as a form of criticism, implying not that they want to understand something but that they’ve already dismissed it as an option.

Kids don’t have these concerns. They are genuinely trying to understand why things work the way they do. It can get a bit frustrating for adults, but this simple question is an invaluable learning tool for children.

As a leader, you need to be able to understand the reasoning behind your team’s proposals. And you need to make sure they’ve thought it through as well. Asking ‘Why?’ in all earnestness is going to help you understand the process behind a decision, and it’s also going to make your team members think critically about their proposals.

As adults, there are many lessons we can learn from children because children show us what comes naturally to a person before experience comes to replace our curiosity and establish clear work patterns.

How Can You Learn Leadership Lessons from Children?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Addison Jenning
Addison Jenning
Addison Jenning is a Contributing Editor at jobdescriptionswiki.com and a HR manager. Her profession enables her to do what she loves most: recruit, motivate and contribute to the development of employees. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company's internal strategy.
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