I bet you never imagined anyone advising you to lead like a preschooler. And 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. To make progress, it is necessary to take risks. Without making improvements, there can be no progress. If there is no progress, we are moving backward. To lead like a preschooler, we must choose to take risks over retreat.
What other leadership lessons can we learn by observing preschoolers? Leave your comments below…