succulent plants decoration in a frame
With Kay Chance
green succulent plants in a frame
succulent plants decoration in a frame
With Kay Chance
A Plan for Naturally Growing Leaders
Many of us have grown up hearing that some people are simply natural-born leaders. Others seem to willingly follow them even when they haven’t been identified as the leader. Don’t think that just because some people may be born natural leaders that leadership skills can’t be taught naturally.
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In groups on social media, it’s not uncommon for moms to ask about curriculum to teach communication or critical thinking or a host of other soft skills. These skills are often the best ones to teach not with a pre-made curriculum, but with those things you already have available—in your home, on the internet, through the people they know, and at the library. All you really need are a few ideas and an intentional mindset to get started.

Through the years, my sons were able to read some great literature. Books like Carry On, Mr. Bowditch and The Bronze Bow taught them about the character traits leaders need, such as perseverance and self-control. Both of them are now Eagle Scouts and had many opportunities through the years to take on various leadership roles through that organization. I’m so thankful for the youth leaders at our church who provided godly examples for my sons to see—other men who came alongside them when life was difficult and shared how to walk through tough times. Now I see my sons doing the same with others in their spheres of influence.

Books, experiences, and mentors all played a role in my sons’ leadership development, and they can become a natural part of your children’s education too.

Resources for Teaching Leadership Skills
The first, and most important, resource is you. Our kids learn so much from us because we’re the ones walking through life with them. They see how we respond to difficult situations, when we volunteer at our churches or in the community, and how we lead them. Often we think of leadership as “who is in charge,” but sometimes it is more subtle than that. Leadership can be acting in a way that influences others to imitate us, such as when Paul tells the Philippians, “Join in imitating me, brothers and sisters, and pay careful attention to those who live according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17, CSB).

Let’s begin by evaluating. Take some time to pray through these questions and discuss them with your spouse:

  • When I want my children to act in a certain way or change a behavior, how do I approach the situation? Do I teach them what is desired, or do I just tell them? Do I expect the same behavior of myself that I expect from them?
  • Is there a way I can be a better leader in our home in my actions, reactions, or attitude?
  • How am I showing my kids what it means to be a husband or wife that honors the Lord?

Another great resource for teaching leadership skills is literature. Whether fiction, nonfiction, or biographies, our students can learn from those they would never have the opportunity to “meet” except through books. We can evaluate the leadership we see in characters and real-life people and talk about what they did well and what needed to be done differently in a variety of situations. The Bible itself will provide countless opportunities to teach about leadership!

Media in all its forms provides a rich environment for teaching leadership skills (with your supervision, of course!). News sites, social media, and the Internet are all valid resources to take advantage of as you intentionally teach what it means to be a good leader to your students. Watch the news together, read online newspapers, and point out what’s going on through social media. Current events like elections will give you ample opportunities to evaluate speeches, both good and bad, from leaders in our country.

An Intentional Plan for Teaching Leadership Skills
Step 1: Have students create a Leadership Notebook. The great thing about notebooking is that students of any age or grade level can make one. When students have a notebook on soft skills such as leadership, they’ll be able to add to it over years of study. (Variation: students can incorporate notebooking pages about leadership into an overall notebook of the things you are studying each school year.)

Step 2: As a family, talk through the following questions: What are the qualities of a good leader? What qualities do you think make a poor leader? You may want to make lists of these qualities in two columns on a whiteboard, poster, or notebook page for them to add to their notebook. Think of some examples together that fit these different qualities. It could be someone they are studying in history, a character in a book, or even someone they know. This will help them to start being aware of what to look for in their own studies. It will also come up in their own leadership experiences.

When my youngest was the patrol leader for Boy Scouts, he had the opportunity to not only lead his troop, but experience some of the difficulties that come with leadership. The boys at one point were given an unrealistic assignment, one many adults would struggle with making successful. As the patrol leader, a lot of the responsibility for the task was placed on my son’s shoulders, and he felt the weight of it. One leader especially was less than gracious in his words and actions toward the young men in the group. I don’t think he meant it this way, but he came off more as a bully than a leader.

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However, another leader of the group was the complete opposite. He chose to come alongside these young men and teach them through the process. The initial task was modified so they would be challenged, but still realistic. But more importantly, through the second style of leadership, they knew they weren’t alone in accomplishing it.

I asked him to share what he learned through that experience:

“A lot of leadership is beyond just words. Integrity and follow-through matter a lot and far more than titles or experience. A bad leader can be in the same position for a long time. Usually the weakest people in charge that I’ve met had held that position for years and became too comfortable in that seat.

If you want to be a good leader, listen to your followers, keep their interests in mind as well as your goals, and understand both their potential and their limitations. The best leaders I’ve met understood what was and wasn’t reasonable to demand of their followers. Treat them fairly and with respect, and don’t get too comfortable while others do the work.” —Daniel, age 21

Step 3: Create a lesson plan. Teaching naturally doesn’t mean we don’t need to create a plan instead of just “winging it.” Sure, there will be times when opportunities present themselves to have an impromptu lesson, but overall we need to be intentional.

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Here are some ideas for activities that will help our kids learn about leadership that can be added to their notebooks:

  • Copywork. Have students copy sentences or paragraphs from the literature they are reading, quotes about leadership, and Bible verses exemplifying what it means to lead.
  • Journaling. As students read literature, including the Bible, or encounter people through the media, have them journal their answers to questions like, “Does this person exhibit the qualities of a good leader? How? What weaknesses do I see in their leadership? How could they improve?”
  • Write a paragraph or paper. Topics such as, “What makes people want to follow others?” “How can I be a better leader?” “What qualities do I look for and avoid when looking for leaders?” give students a chance to explore and organize their thoughts about leadership.
  • Create a piece of art. Draw, paint a picture, or make a collage with a theme of leadership. Ask your students, “What does leadership look like to you?”
  • Keep a list. As they have the opportunity to be leaders, have them write down what they are doing and what they are learning through the experience. For example, if your students have a leadership role in a club or program, periodically have them record the struggles they encounter as leaders and what they can do about those struggles.

Step 4: Don’t forget to continually have conversations and discussions with your kids about these topics. They need your thoughts and input, but they also need to feel safe expressing what they think and believe about these things. So talk with your kids, not just at them.

For us our years of “official” homeschooling are over, but the relationships remain, and we’re still learning together. We continue to have conversations about life, especially during this difficult year we’ve been experiencing. Our youngest son had an unexpected six-month spring break where we were blessed to have him live with us again. We talked a lot about the upcoming presidential election—what qualities we believe are important in a good leader. Can I say, I think I learned more from him than he did me? Our kids often have a different view from our own, and there are so many things we each have to learn. Why not do it together?

Leadership skills can become a natural part of your children’s education. You don’t need to buy a curriculum, but you do need to be intentional about teaching them.


ay Chance homeschooled her children for fifteen years. While teaching them, she discovered a passion for writing and developing curriculum resources. She loves sharing natural learning methods and creative lesson ideas with other homeschooling parents. Kay is the co-executive editor of Homeschooling Today magazine and the author of the older extensions for the Trail Guide to Learning series. She makes her home in Texas with her husband Brian.