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Lead Like a Preschooler

5

January 24, 2012 by eric echols

No, this post isn’t about throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of your offices when you don’t get your way. Nor is it about living in a fantasy world where you are the center of the universe and everything else revolves around you. If you have a tendency to lead in either of these ways…you should be put in the “time out” chair until you’ve read at least 5 John Maxwell books.

So, what can you learn about leadership from a preschooler? Having raised three preschoolers and having overseen next generation ministries for over 15 years, I’ve observed some key characteristics in preschoolers that every leader should adopt no matter where they are or what they do in an organization.

Choose Curiosity Over Apathy

Preschoolers are naturally curious. Spend longer than 30 seconds with a 4 year old and you soon realize that they question EVERYTHING. They are extremely inquisitive. They want to explore, discover, and learn.

Apathy kills curiosity & takes away the ability to innovate. So what do you do if indifference has crept into the way you lead? Rekindle your curiosity by asking , “Why?” and “What if…?” questions about everything.

Curious leaders challenge the status quo and explore new ways of doing things. To lead like a preschooler, you must choose curiosity over apathy.

Choose Adaptation Over Stagnation

Preschoolers adapt to their surroundings. I watch this happen every week as kids enter our preschool ministry. They may be reluctant at first, but it does not take long before they have settled into their new environment. Their fear of the unknown may slow them down but it does not stop them. Preschoolers have an uncanny ability to change and adapt.

Your ability to adapt will determine your effectiveness as a leader. Idle leaders become stagnant leaders. If we were to be totally honest, many of us are reluctant to change. But fear of change turns our reluctance into resistance. When we resist change, we become stagnant…and it stops us from moving forward. If you want to lead like a preschooler, choose to embrace change and adapt to it instead of resist it and become stagnant.

Choose Risks Over Retreat

Preschoolers are constantly maturing, growing, and developing. They do not back down from challenges but take risks to solve any problem they face. The words “it can’t be done” are not in the vocabulary of a preschooler. They will use their imagination to make the impossible, possible.

Unfortunately the fear of failure causes us to retreat from our problems. Because we don’t want to fail, we allow the words “it can’t be done” to become commonplace in our vocabulary. When we think “it can’t be done”, we avoid the necessary risks that would take our organization to the next level.

Leaders don’t back down from challenges, they figure out ways to overcome them. They know that taking calculated risks is what makes great things possible. Without taking risks, we cannot make improvements. Without improvements, we are not making progress. Without progress, we are in retreat. To lead like a preschooler, we must choose to take the risks over retreat.

What other leadership lessons can we learn by observing preschoolers? Leave your comments below…

This post is an adaptation from a chapter I wrote in the book, “Turbocharged 2.0: 100 Simple Secrets to Successful Preschool Ministry”. To learn more about the book you can check it out here
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5 thoughts on “Lead Like a Preschooler

  1. neilhancock says:

    Great Post Eric!!

    Here are 5 things that I have learned from my kids and the kids I have taught over the years…

    1. Faith… When my daughter prays, she BELIEVES that God will answer her prayer. Why do we adults pray and just HOPE that He answers us?

    2. Creativity… My kids can create fun with the most simple things! My son thinks anything can be made into a hat!

    3. Persistance… When my kids want something, they don’t give up very easily! Now while this can be a bit annoying and frustrating at times as a parent, I still think there is a lesson here. I think too often as adults we give up on our dreams and goals way to quickly and easily.

    4. Trust… My son never fears that I will drop him, he leaps toward me never thinking for a minute that I wouldn’t be there to catch him. This is how I want to be with our FATHER! Too often I allow fear and doubt to control me. God has promised to NEVER leave or forsake me. I need to trust in Him like my son trusts in me.

    5. Silliness… Guess what? It’s okay to be silly!! I encourage ALL Dads to be silly with their kids! EVEN IN PUBLIC! I think when you can be silly with your kids in public, in shows them that they matter more to you than what other people may think! So don’t be afraid to “Get your SILLY on!”

    • eric echols says:

      Neil, thanks for the comments! There’s so much we can learn from watching kids. If we had the faith, trust, and creativity of our kids…there would be no limit to how God could use us.

  2. Carrie says:

    Choosing awe and wonder over reason and answers. As an early childhood educator and kindergarten teacher I feel like I have a front row explanation to what it means to have child-like faith.

    • eric echols says:

      Absolutely. When I watch the faith of a child I’m reminded about how un-childlike my faith can become. Glad you enjoyed the post! Keep up the great work of impacting the next generation.

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