5 Ways to Raise a True Leader

Val Curtis
Sponsored By

This is one of my favorite photos. It was a moment of strength from a 4-year-old. A moment that two moms, a 10-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 7-year-old looked to her for leadership.

Let’s roll back about 30 minutes before this photo was taken. We were on a road trip from San Juan Island to San Francisco and we had pulled off in Redwood National Park for a hike among the giants. As we were heading back to the van, we hit a fork in the trail and we automatically walked to the right. Kate, our 4-year-old, wanted to go left. Actually, she didn’t want to just go left. She vehemently stated that we were going the wrong way and that the correct trail was to the left. Suzanne and I (and the rest of the crew) told her we were pretty sure it was to the right. So we went right.

After about 20 more minutes of hiking, we reached this spot and realized we had gone the wrong way because we had not been there before! We had to eat crow. We turned to Kate and said she was absolutely right and would she please lead us back to the van.

Here is that photo again…

spring-in-stepDo you see the spring in her step?

That was over 8 months ago and she STILL brings it up whenever we are on a hike, road trip or adventure. “I am the trail leader because I pay attention to the path!”

Whenever I get chance, I love to empower my kids to take a leadership role.

Leaders need mountains to climb that are bigger than what they can accomplish on their own. They need to understand the strength found in team building and through their careful planning. We model leadership by providing our kids with the tools they need to solve their problems, so that they, too, can become leaders.

Let’s be honest. We are in desperate need of some great leaders in America and it is our job as parents to provide our kids with opportunities to develop their leadership skills.

Here are 5  ways you can raise a true leader:


Strong leaders need to have clarity about what space is theirs to command with little interference. Every once in awhile, I like to offer my kids a “YES” day where they get to make all of the decisions from sun up to bedtime. These are really fun during the summer and holiday breaks. You might be surprised how your kids really want to spend their time.



Put your child in charge of the map or ask them to keep a journal to record specific details of your trip. For kids who love their electronics, hand them the camera and ask them to document your trip. This is a really great way for you to experience their perspective of the trip. When you return home, make a movie as a keepsake of your memories. Giving your child a role that they are in charge of is empowering and shares the message that their voice and perspective is valuable, needed and appreciated.



Don’t worry. I am not asking you to hand over your checkbook and credit cards. However, I am suggesting that it could be VERY beneficial for your child to know your monthly food budget and for them to help you with the meal planning and shopping for a month. Does that seem a bit too large? What about their birthday party? A road trip?

Learning fiscal responsibility is an incredibly important part of being an effective leader and we can easily help our kids in this area. To be honest, it might be a great lesson for us as well!



While it is important for our kids to learn how to develop and work on a team, it is also important for them to learn about the power of one. Share with them the story of grassroot projects that turned into movements. It all starts with one person standing up and making their voice heard. Teach them about Dr. Mona Hanna – Attisha who started the fight against lead in Flint, Michigan. Teach them about Rachel Carson who fought against the use of DDT and wrote “Silent Spring”. There are so many inspirational stories to tell. Which will speak to your kids?



There is a saying that leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders. This is truly the backbone of 4H. Kids becoming leaders within their area of expertise (cattle, sheep, knitting, rodeo, astronomy, baking, entrepreneurship) and sharing that knowledge with other kids, inspiring them to become the leaders and teachers of tomorrow.

Here is one of my dearest friends explaining the effect 4H has had on her kids and the leadership she has witnessed first-hand.

Please take a moment to join 4H’s ThunderClap to share one unified message about how great kids are today.

We would love for you to do a Shout Out to the true leaders in your community and for you to tag 4H.

Learn more about the Grow True Leaders Campaign here.


We all want our kids to be leaders., right? These 5 tips will help nurture that leading spirit within.


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 4-H. The opinions and text are all mine.