What I Want My Daughter to Know About Leadership

Our annual fall bonfire is a gathering of families and couples who come to enjoy good conversation and food by a roaring fire. The children range in age from three to sixteen. While the teens are more interested in reading and texting, the younger kids bond through eating S’mores, playing with glow sticks, and sitting together near the fiery warmth. My daughter is usually the youngest.

To her, John, age five Caleb, age six and Lily, age 10, to name a few, are heroes and role models. While she loves her friends, she feels safety in their company and would willingly follow them to the moon and back. In return, they are guiding and assisting her to make good decisions. These children are too young, perhaps, to see their acts under the label of leadership.  As parents, we feel fortunate our daughter has many friends of varying ages who enjoy her with sisterly affection.

In friendship, the rules are unclear for my three-year-old daughter. Her education offers correction and opportunities to witness the interactions of both adults and children. While one-third of her life will be spent trying to understand her relationships, she will show leadership in her everyday actions toward her little brother, her friends and classmates in her undergraduate studies and chosen profession and in the gift of parenthood. Instilling this character trait will test her faith and her understanding of right and wrong. Most importantly, she will learn when to listen, when to speak up, when to lead, and when to follow. While the outside
world is a competitive place and too often confusing, I want my daughter to remember always that being a leader coincides with being the best person at all times in God’s presence.

As parents, we are reinforcing such phrases as “Be nice!” “Be patient!” “Wait your turn!” and the Golden Rule, “Listen!” It may be cute to hear the questions and responses that come from a young child’s heart; but soon, she will learn the value of listening and responding appropriately. Throughout her education, our daughter will have opportunities to use her voice. Her words may have influence over her friends and encourage them also to make good choices. She has the power to unite people instead of alienating others, and to transform a bully into a new friend. With a strong and kind heart, her leadership potential could empower a drive in others.

Understanding the situation, she could choose to go along with the crowd, or face the consequences of walking away. Will others also follow her in support, or choose an easier path? While she will always have a choice, leadership is not always popular or cool. Sometimes, doing the right thing means losing friends. I hope my daughter can see her strengths, the power behind her name, and every aspect of herself that reflects her character.

Until our daughter is old enough, she has the protection of her family. While this love creates a feeling of self-importance, she, too, will need to stand up for her own beliefs and perhaps for those who do not have a voice. While she will be encouraged to do her best and not compare herself to anyone else, our daughter will learn to demonstrate leadership by asking hard questions and sometimes challenging the rules. It is important for our dear daughter to have the aptitude to persevere and complete her commitments. Even if failure becomes the only option, I hope she learns from her mistakes in striving toward the goal of becoming a better person.

For those who are in a position of influence, such as her teachers, coaches and employers, we pray each person will have enough spirit and care to encourage her. Great leaders can make a remarkable difference in her life by providing opportunities and challenges, constructive criticism and promotion. While there will be many peers and colleagues who block her path, she has her own determination and talent to overcome obstacles. May you, dear daughter, climb to the top of your defined summit to find knowledge and happiness! Standing on the sidelines, we, your parents, will silently cheer you on! “Go, girl! You can do anything!”