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Small leaders (1)

Big family reunion at our house yesterday: I was up till midnight on Saturday making enough vegetarian lasagne to feed an army the next day. Well, a vegetarian army. The picture is of Eija, who was our leader for most of the afternoon. She’s taking a rest: tiring stuff this leading.

Once everyone had arrived and eaten, the image that stands out in my mind is of four-year-old Eija (pronounced ‘Aya’ she told me patiently), the youngest member of our family, sitting herself on the back of one of the sofas so that she was high enough for everyone to hear and see her (unintentionally, I think), and holding court. Fifteen other faces, mostly adult, were turned in her direction in rapt concentration as she led the conversation.

It reminded me how fearless kids can be. And that they often lead us without our acknowledging it. I know I learn constantly from my two sons, and leading and teaching are closely related. As are leading and learning (full of paradoxes this leadership stuff, isn’t it).

Anyway, it helps to break the old stereotypes of strutting male leaders – the leader as patriarch, in particular – to remind ourselves that anyone can lead, and that includes children. In fact, because of the power of ‘naive mind’ or whatever the innovation researchers call it, especially children.

I’ve currently put this (see post, below) in as the draft introduction to the 60 Second Leader – the book I’m supposed to be writing. Sorry, if John at Capstone is reading this, I meant the book I have almost finished (one month till deadline for manuscript submission…gulp).

It’s a reminder that, as with Eija (“It’s pronounced ‘Aya’ actually”), size doesn’t matter in leadership.


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