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Future Leaders

by Eve Ash

28 March 2011

We focus our attention in businesses on developing and training managers, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that great workplace behaviours start young - very young. Children are our future workforce and more importantly our future leaders and we as adults – parents, teachers, mentors, family and friends - should be guiding and helping to create the behaviours of respectful, inclusive, confident goal oriented individuals.

So where and when do we begin? And is there a role for businesses to assist in such a challenge? Or do we just expect schools, teachers and parents to take that role?

If we work in a business that is not supportive to parents and their family needs – who suffers? EVERYONE! Typically we see the following:

·       The business ends up with stressed parents who are not 100% focused on the business because they are stressed by their family pressures

·       The parents are not giving their children sufficient focus because they are too busy with work – the iphone sits beeping a message on the kitchen table, the laptop is open in the lounge room, the phone calls occur at odd hours

·      The children perhaps don’t get enough attention and don’t get the role modeling and input they need to develop essential life skills that do not always get learned at school.

So what are the behaviours and attributes we need our children to develop? What will help them become achievers and even leaders?

Think about this list and how much we contribute to our children’s development of these attributes and behaviours:

o        Treating each other fairly and with respect

o        Communicating clearly and effectively

o        Listening and understanding

o        Recognising and caring when someone is upset

o        Being assertive and overcoming fear of speaking up

o        Being cooperative and inclusive

o        Remaining persistent and positive

o        Skills for asking questions

o        Skills for answering questions

o        Negotiating and influencing skills

o        Skills to prioritise and manage tasks

o        Ability to remain calm under pressure

o        Knowing when, why and how to apologise

o        Accepting responsibility

o        Enthusing others

o        Appreciating and acknowledging others’ efforts

To be a really great parent, we need to be a good role model when it comes to making time for all the extras with our children. James Arthur Baldwin once said that \"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.\" How true!

If you are trying to balance work, family, health and all of the other demands that life throws at you, you may be feeling as though you just want to get the kids in bed and out of the way so you can relax after a hard day at work. But think about it for a moment – if this is the version of you that your children see five days out of every seven then their overall impression is a negative one. They may see you treat your partner with irritation and impatience. This is sending a daily message to your children about how to interact with a loved one.

Children are amazing. Their fresh eyes wash over the world and absorb it with an energetic innocence that most of us wish we could get back. As parents it is one of the great joys of life to switch off to the working world and catch a small dose of the enthusiasm that children approach the world with.

Energy, enthusiasm and children.

I have recently had the great pleasure of working with Catherine (Cathy) Freeman and Save the Children on an animated cartoon series aimed at helping children develop confidence, assertiveness and the ability to speak out. It’s such an exciting project, and we have just won 8 awards at international film competitions.

It is a series of short stories, and children learn about their own magic box (in their heads) internal messages (me messages) and their rights. Catherine voices the character of little Catherine, the central character in this Finding My Magicseries. Her energy and enthusiasm translates perfectly to the animated screen. She has a strong empathy for children, she is so passionate about children being treated with respect and care, and this is a natural fit with her work at the Cathy Freeman Foundation, through which she has done such great work for the children of PalmIsland.

Whilst parents are working like crazy to further their careers, and build the skills of their children by sending them to sports training and extra tuition after school there seems to be an increasing void for the interpersonal skills side of life. Parents are not negligent, but it may just be time to slow down and spend some time with your children thinking about how you are going to make sure they are well equipped to interact socially and to navigate emotional obstacles.

Have a look at some of the children who are developing their skills!

Click here

Finding My Magic is available for schools but for any parent wanting to buy it for their kids for personal use we would like to offer a special offer to RUBY readers, of 20% off. Just use this code “RUBY7”!More than half the proceeds goes to Save the Children and the Cathy Freeman Foundation.