What did the parents do right?

When I meet someone who really has their act together, I often wonder what their childhood must have been like, what their parents must have done right.

This fall, I wrote letters of recommendation for one such person, a former employee, who is applying to some of the top business schools in the US. In addition to answering specific questions about the candidate, I was asked to check off skills and qualities from a large grid of leadership qualities. As I read over the grid, I started wondering how a parent raises a child who can get into these schools, a child who:

  • “Is respectful to all and generous with praise; ensures other opinions are heard.”
  • “Is reliable and authentic even at some personal cost; works to ensure all members of the organization operate with integrity.”
  • “Brings others together across boundaries to achieve results and share best practices.”
  • “Inspires and motivates others to develop by providing feedback and identifying new growth opportunities as well as supporting their efforts to change.”
  • and the list keeps going

There is no simple answer, but I bet his parents must have been strong role models of all of these qualities.

If you are a parent, or if children are an important part of your life, how do you help them develop leadership qualities? Did you have a leadership role model growing up? I’d like to hear from you!


© 2012 by Karen Catlin. All rights reserved.

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