How parents can hurt and help their kids grow into leaders

Forbes magazine interviewed leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore about how to help your children grow into leaders. Elmore is the Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring young people to become leaders.

He highlighted seven parental behaviors that can hinder their growth and then gave tips to help them develop as leaders. I am giving you the quick-hit version.  Click the link to read about both aspects in greater detail.

From Forbes:

Seven parenting behaviors that hurt kids’ chances to develop into leaders:

  1. We don’t let our kids experience risk.
  2. We rescue them too quickly.
  3. We rave too easily.
  4. We let guilt get in the way of leading well.  (This one needed more explanation)
  5. We don’t share our past mistakes.
  6. We mistake intelligence, giftedness for maturity
  7. We don’t practice what we preach.

Elmore went on to suggest tips to help kids develop leadership skills:

“1.Talk over the issues you wish you would’ve known about adulthood.
“2. Allow them to attempt things that stretch them and even let them fail.
“3. Discuss future consequences if they fail to master certain disciplines.
“4. Aid them in matching their strengths to real-world problems.
“5. Furnish projects that require patience, so they learn to delay gratification.
“6. Teach them that life is about choices and trade-offs; they can’t do everything.
“7. Initiate (or simulate) adult tasks like paying bills or making business deals.
“8. Introduce them to potential mentors from your network.
“9. Help them envision a fulfilling future, and then discuss the steps to get there.
“10. Celebrate progress they make toward autonomy and responsibility.”

So what do you think of his list of hindering parental behavior and his list of tips to help them develop?

9 comments Add your comment


January 27th, 2014
8:16 am

Love it! A teacher in Cobb County told me about him in the fall and I read one of his books.

In our house, we talk about most everything :). I shoot pretty straight with my kids. When they were smaller and their friends had things we did not feel were necessary, we told them that we simply chose to spend our money differently and did not have money for those things ( a family movie center in the basement with seats and screens). It is o.k. for others to have this, if it is important to them.

My daughter’s car pooped out right at her apt. on Friday ( lucky). We had it towed it to our mechanic in Norcross.

Two points I made to her:
1. We pay $$$ for upgraded AAA for these emergencies ( it was covered). Being on the road, I am certain to cover myself and my family is an add on.
2. We cannot spend every dime we have, as these things come up and we will need $$$ to cover it.
This is why we have to put $$$ aside for life’s unexpected things. Not everyone does this.

I believe several skills were covered in those two statements. We hope the repair will not be outrageous!


January 27th, 2014
9:19 am

This is not even about helping your kids be leaders of anyone else but just over their own life. Give them experiences and the confidence to make their own decisions.

I cannot express enough to other parents to let their kids fail, let them experience a little disappointment and miss out every now and then. I did not do a good enough job at this at an early age with my son.


January 27th, 2014
10:54 am

Amen to all of it. Especially the one about rescuing them too quickly!


January 27th, 2014
11:54 am

Either everyone is off today or only the “regulars” check the blog anymore ;)


January 27th, 2014
1:07 pm

I agree with all the points. We were discussing this in Sunday School yesterday. Well, it was more on do we let others influence our children, etc….but it dovetails. So, today I get call and my eldest child has violated dress code (ripped pants)…She was told to have someone bring her clothes or go sit in isolation class. I am pretty sure she will get the point…and no I did not go rescue her from isolation class.

They both had things they wanted to do Saturday but they did not had chores done. Chores got done but they missed the “social” stuff….I noticed they were better about cleaning up after themselves on Sunday. Oldest managed to get youth group last night since her stuff was done.


January 27th, 2014
1:45 pm

Unfortunate that there are so few comments.

A while back it was mentioned that I could perhaps share shopping tips to those who use an EBT card, as I am a frugal shopper and I fuss about those who waste $$$. I mentioned that many people who need help do not want to hear it it. I have been told that I should speak to some parents of younger children and share ideas that are practical. In the next sentence, I am told that those who need to hear my ideas would not show up. Only those who already have a handle on things might actually appreciate my ideas.

The points above IMHO are very helpful in raising leaders. You have to be confident about your own decisions, in order to lead others. Failure does make you stronger or at least able to come up with a solution. Finding your strengths allows you to chart a course of where you could lead. I can lead teachers and young children but would be horrible in the band or as a cruise director…haha! Mentors can groom you for a specific career and let you know if you have what it takes.

Sad that no one wants to talk about things that are important in the outcome of one’s children.

DB and I are on the tail end here, as our kids are now young adults. We both realize the value in the ideas above.


January 27th, 2014
1:51 pm

Numbers 2, 3, and 6 are pretty big in our house. My kid is still rather young so some of the other stuff is pretty watered down to her level, but we do try to address most of it.


January 27th, 2014
2:21 pm

Right there with ya MJG… my son is a freshman in college this year. Since I’m a young mom, I have a lot of friends with little ones. They get to listen to my advice whether they want it or not. I hope by admitting I didn’t do everything right, they’ll know it’s ok to assess what they’re doing and maybe make some changes.

I have a similar philosophy: parents who question their ability as parents are usually the parents who are doing ok. It’s those who think they do everything right or those who don’t bother to assess what they’re doing are the ones who usually have issues.


January 27th, 2014
4:31 pm

^^^^like Techmom!

A neighbor’s daughter got early acceptance to UGA. She is a darling girl who is a good student, works a part time job, volunteers and drives her parents old ( non cool) mini van. I chatted with them about 10 days ago and she wants to speak with our daughter to find out things she may need to know. They are both Seniors, Our daughter in college and her daughter in HS. They are not really friends but our daughter is glad to help her! Being open to ideas that others have to share, is the smartest thing to do…if you are headed down the road they have already traveled.