Two lessons in leadership I learnt from my children

I was fortunate to get away over the break to visit family and friends in the UK. But I consider myself even more fortunate to watch my boys, now 5 and 7, reconnect with their cousins who they’d not seen since they were toddlers.

While there was little doubt in mine or my husband’s mind that they’d all get along famously, I was somewhat enamoured by the manner in which they established and nurtured these relationships.

I was reminded how open and direct children are when it comes to forming relationships and found myself reflecting on what I could learn from this. 

When I was younger I so desperately wanted to be a grown up, and here I found myself - the grown up - admiring the innate abilities of a child. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Sharing & Acceptance

Kids are instinctive little creatures and I observed an organic quid pro quo guiding my lot’s initial interactions. It was a generous and curious impulse to find common ground; where they sought likeness not difference.

I was warmed to see Spencer, Austin and their cousins excitedly trade tales of what they like to do, enthuse over various toys or games, regale each other with experiences from school and sports, and leap into each other’s suggestions of what would be fun to do. Within minutes of sharing and accepting each other’s introductions they were off playing.

I learnt that without bias or preconception children meet new people and ideas head-on. Whether they are shy or bold, they courageously try new things with open minds, few expectations and zero agenda.

Playing & Learning

Most parents know that children learn through play. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we adults could switch up our language to use the word ‘play’ more liberally; ‘I’m playing with some ideas from Simon Sinek’s new book’, sounds more enticing than ‘I’m studying some business-leadership literature’.

Unencumbered by previous failures children fearlessly embrace new adventures. They squeal with delight at their achievements - and they’ll tell you all about it; children don’t self-deprecate, which is another invigorating quality. 

A graze or a bruise is a glorious trophy. Okay, perhaps after a few tears - but that scar is never considered a weakness, as an adult might consider their physical or emotional pains.

They fall down, they get back up, and they do it again until they succeed. When their friends falter their encouragement persists until that success is shared. Which brings me to another worthy observation: Kids have no qualms asking for help when they need it, and their friends have no qualms in giving it.

If that’s not a lesson in leadership I don’t know what is.  

What were you like as a child, and do you still see those qualities in your professional self?

Emily Wilson is Managing Partner at FutureYou Executive Recruitment and can be contacted at or 0474 848 675.

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