Becoming a leader of any form takes practice, patience, skill, insight, and time. It’s not something that happens overnight. While it does take a lot of specialization to become an effectual leader, a lot of the fundamental ideals and principles taught are not new concepts; many of us have been receiving little lessons in leadership from the time we were old enough to go to school. Although we were not being told explicitly that what we were learning were leadership based, these more or less ‘common sense’ lessons we’re taught at a young age lay the groundwork for some important leadership ideologies. While we may not have become experts at the time, here are a few of the leadership lessons that you learn as early as kindergarten.
- When you mess up, you say sorry.
When a child makes a mess or breaks something that belongs to someone else, they’re taught to own up to their failure and say that they’re sorry. When it comes to being a leader, by this point you’ve likely realized that human beings, yourself included, aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, there’s no leadership tip that tells you how to be perfect, so the best that you can do is take ownership of your errors and apologize for any resulting problems.
- Sharing is caring
One thing that effective leaders know is the importance of helping others, and this simple human kindness is one we’re taught as children. Leaders must demonstrate sharing in several different ways. First, most leaders are looked to as sources of knowledge or information. To effectively lead those looking to you for guidance, you need to share the wisdom and lessons you’ve learned with them. The second type of sharing is more external: as a leader when someone on your team does a particularly good job or finally overcomes a hurdle, it’s your job to share in their excitement, share their good news with the rest of the team, and have them share particular insights about what made them successful. Your job as a leader is to call forth the best in your team and help them actualize their potential. This includes encouraging them during moments when they excell.
- Slow and steady
Much like the classic fable taught to children about the tortoise and the hare, in life most things cannot be rushed. Children are taught the importance of hard, consistent work over rushing through tasks, and this lesson carries importance through life. Good things take time, and if you try to rush them, your work at the end won’t be your best. When planning a project that will require input and assistance from multiple people, take the time to make sure that everyone fully understands his or her responsibilities. While some people will be chomping at the bit to get started, it’s more important to make sure everyone is up to speed than to get a speedy start.