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Karin’s Leadership Articles

Leadership for Kids: A Great Way To Teach Your Kids About Leadership

by | Nov 10, 2012 | By Karin Hurt, Developing Leadership In Children |

What Does Your Mommy Do?

I have never had one of those jobs they sing about on Sesame Street.

As with most of us, the roles I have assumed over the years are hard to explain.

But if you ask my kids what I do, they have a short answer, “my mom is a leader.”

Probe further, and you’ll get more:

  • “She asks a lot of questions”
  • “She helps people figure things out”
  • “She teaches people stuff”
  • “She has a team”
  • “She tries to make work more fun”

They know because they live it.

Some would argue it’s because I have no work-life balance, and by some definitions, I suppose that’s true.

On the other hand…

My kids have learned about leadership by…

  • traveling with me
  • working booths at special events
  • sitting on my lap while I took on-line leadership trainings (they got the answers right)
  • watching me manage late night and weekend crises
  • overhearing countless calls
  • hearing me make tough choices
  • helping me host dinners for my team
  • seeing what makes me angry
  • watching how I handled stress (not always well)
  • sharing in my victories
  • processing the stories
  • partnering with me in volunteer work

Is this lifestyle for everyone, absolutely not. Are there tradeoffs? You bet. Everyone’s goals, values and circumstances are different. For me, letting them into my world and talking about why I do what I do, seems to help.

My experience has been that kids…

  • want to understand what you really do
  • are interested in how you make decisions
  • are capable of learning a great deal about leadership
  • can apply those skills in their own situations
  • want to talk about leadership

There is also more room for work-life integration than most people think.

Are you a parent-leader? Please enjoy our free e-book, Parents Guide to Leadership click here to download. 


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  1. Steve Borek

    The leader is always being watched. Always. It’s important to model the way. This is the first of five practices of exemplary leadership in the book by Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge.

    How do I demonstrate leadership to my kids? I have a kid’s mindset. Stay curious and have fun. I don’t have all the answers. I continuously look outside my environment for innovative ways to improve.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Thanks, Steve…. I love the idea of keeping a child’s mindset.

  2. Eric Dingler (@EricDingler)

    With a two year old and 9 week old, this topic has been on my ming a lot lately. I think the most important thing to remember, more is caught than is taught.

    • letsgrowleaders

      thanks so much! I love the of what’s “caught” even if we didn’t mean to throw it.

  3. Dania Sandfia

    I don’t have kids but I think it’s really important to always be patient and open to their questions and to also let them know when you don’t know something. This teaches them that it’s okay to not have all the answers and that there’s nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know.”

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dania, So great to have you join the conversation. Ahh yes, patience…

  4. Nathan Magnuson

    I enjoyed reading that, Karin. My rule of thumb is if you can’t explain to kids what you do in a way that seems (at least a little bit) exciting to them, then you’ve got some work to do. Btw, did you know that Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager was originally supposed to be a kids’ book?

    • letsgrowleaders

      Nathan, Wow. I did not know that… so cool. Makes me want to read it again.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Workplace Conflict, and hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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