If you’ve raised children, you know that there are millions of decisions made in the process. Children push us to be deciders, to give permission and, of course, question the decision or lack of permission. They want to know the boundaries, and we are typically quite happy to provide them. You also know that often choices are the order of the day. Do you want to wear this or that, eat this or that, or go now or in five minutes? We repeat questions similar to these every single day, often multiple times each day. We want to allow our children to have some ownership over their decisions and to learn to make decisions.
“How do we create leaders if we don’t let kids make decisions?” I was struck by this question posed by Alice Keeler, a leader in technology education in one of her recent blogs. I don’t know that I ever equated decision-making with the creation of leaders. It makes sense, but I didn’t draw a direct line. Leadership roles require the ability to make decisions but also to know what decisions are critical, somewhat important or perhaps inconsequential. Just as it does not really matter if a child wears a blue or brown shirt, it may not matter if a meeting is held today or next week. However, it absolutely matters if a child holds your hand to be safe in crossing a street just as it matters if this person is qualified for a position and another is not.
The trick is balancing these decisions and making sure that others know you have faith in their ability to decide and will stand by the decision that is made. If your children or your co-workers think you will second guess them at every turn, they will effectively be hampered from making any decisions in their lives. And, as Alice Keeler states, how will they assume leadership roles if they don’t have this practice along the way?