1) Set a good example.
Your child will struggle to be a good leader if you cannot show them what a good leader looks like. Good leaders know how to listen, encourage feedback. They are not authoritarian, but still know where to draw the line and say no. So listen to your child and allow them to argue for themselves, but don’t be afraid to tell them “no” or “not right now.” Back away from both “because I said so” parenting and coddling, and embrace a parenting style that allows you to demonstrate negotiation and firm decision making to your child.
2) Get them involved.
You can teach your child a lot about leadership, but they can’t learn everything from you. Children need to learn to interact with peers and other adults with authority. Sign them up for a sports team, enroll them in a scouting organization, or have them join an orchestra. Don’t force your child into an activity they don’t like, and be flexible, in case they try something and decide they don’t like it. If they want to do something that involves a financial commitment, such as playing an an instrument or participating in a sport that involves a lot of expensive equipment, look for rental deals or try to find a school or community organization you can borrow from. If you have the funds, send them to a sleepaway camp. At camp, your child will learn independance, try many activities, and further hone their intrapersonal skills.
3) Put them in charge.
Have your child be in charge of making a meal, drafting a shopping list, or deciding on a weekend activity for the family. Use simple tasks as both a way of teaching them to be comfortable with various activities–using a search engine, working a stove, or using the washing machine–and as a way of allowing them to establish their importance in the household. If your child is old enough for chores, put them “in charge” of one–whether it’s operating the dishwasher, doing the laundry, or vacuuming once a week. This will put them in a position of responsibility.
4) Teach them how to fail.
The ability to bounce back from failure is essential for a successful leader, but too many parents are afraid to see their children make mistakes. They rush to the rescue every time a homework assignment is forgotten, a friendship hits a roadblock, or a difficult decision appears. Let your child know that you are there for them if they need help, but if at all possible, let them make and fix their own mistakes. Teach them that failure doesn’t mean the end–and demonstrate it, by supporting them in failure. And resist the urge to shower them in participation trophies. This will ultimately cause them to mistrust their perception of you, leading to bad self-esteem down the road.