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Leadership - Nature or Nurture

October 31, 2015

I have spent many years researching “Leadership qualities” by attending programs, reading various authors, articles, studying models, having intense discussions with some people (especially my father) and finally consolidating them into a 12 point list. Though everyone might not agree with this list, I feel there would not be many who would completely disagree.

 

The qualities are listed below:

 

Passion

Honesty & Integrity

Visionary

Empowering

Optimism

Role model

Engaging

Influencing

Empathy

Learning Mindset

Flexibility

Self- awareness

 

The question however is; are people born leaders? Or can Leadership be developed?

 

Many people say that we have certain qualities or personalities and no matter what we do, these qualities cannot be changed. This is the eternal debate between Nature vs Nurture.

The point though is that can we nurture a child to have a head start with some Leadership traits?

 

Can we Nurture a child to have:

 

• Passion for things that he does?

• Honesty & Integrity ingrained as a part of life?

• More optimism and courage to take things into their own hands and be the “Masters of their own fate”? 

• A dogged and persevering approach to convincing and influencing people?

 

I believe that some of these traits might be natural; however, need to be developed and nurtured. If not done, then a child with potential might never fulfil his or her destiny.

 

Passion

Do we as parents let our children explore their passions, do we help them choose and chase what they desire? Or is it what “we” desire?

 

Do we demonstrate and inspire them by showing how passionate we are about things? Can they see the Passion for achievement, success and most importantly “Life”, in all that we do?

 

Or do they see someone working hard and toiling listlessly, not knowing what they are aiming for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Do they see fun, excitement and enthusiasm in our eyes when we talk about our work or the drudgery, fatigue and stress? 

 

Can they sense and understand what drives me as a person? Is it me “the parent”, “the spouse”, “the bread winner” or just “ME and My Passion for Life”?

 

I wonder ….. I really wonder….

 

Honesty & Integrity 

 

Many of us would want our children to be honest and have integrity, yet do not want to take the effort to instil those qualities.

 

How many times have we seen parents make small false promises to their kids? I’ve heard parents say, “Let’s go home and I will give you a chocolate”, even though they have no intention of doing so.

Or something simpler where they will promise to take the child for a movie the next day, just so that they keep quiet now.

 

In fact I could go on and on…. I’m sure many of us could.

 

Now what happens when promises made to a child are left unfulfilled, what happens to his sense of trust and belief? How much is he driven to keep to his promises and commitments?

 

 From experience I have seen my son tends to listen and accept when I say “When Daddy makes a promise, does he always fulfill it?” he doesn’t really have much to say, nor does he throw a tantrum when he is sure that what is promised WILL happen. 

 

This teaches him the importance and necessity of sticking to his word and commitments.

 

The other day while riding on the bike with my son, he suddenly started   saying “Come to your side, come to your side” at first I didn’t get what he was saying. On asking him I realised we had crossed slightly onto the other side of the road and I was on the dividing line. It seems he had learned in school about rules of the road and some do’s and don’ts. I immediately apologised to him and came back onto my side of the road. 

 

Now in this case some parents might have justified what they were doing or even mocked what the teacher said or just ignored the child and continued to drive the way they wanted. 

 

Any behaviour the child sees that clashes with what he knows to be right can cause him to question what truly is, ‘the right thing to do’? It then leads to a dilution of right and wrong in his mind and that further magnifies as he grows up.