Six Tips for Raising Leaders

By Sarina Behar Natkin Posted April 11, 2016 under Guest Authors

This blog post was originally posted on

What do a parent educator and a business leader have in common? Both are actively teaching others the skills needed to inspire, motivate and encourage those around them. My father and I discovered years ago that we speak about the exact same things, just to different audiences. These are not just business leadership skills, they are not just parenting skills, but the skills we all need to thrive as human beings

In my previous post, The Business of Parenting, I explored the connection between business leadership and parenting. Many parents are effective leaders in the work place only to leave those skills at the front door. The same goes for our kids who may be outstanding leaders in their schools, sports teams and youth groups. Here's six tips for building leadership skills that inspire those around us to move towards their hopes and dreams.

Model Your Values Every Day
Whether we are aware of it or not, we are always teaching through our actions and inactions. Identify your core values and use those as your compass in every decision you make. Want others to hear your perspective, what are you modeling when they want to share theirs? Your ability to walk your talk will shift behavior in others.

Lead With Kindness & Firmness At The Same Time
We often get stuck being too kind and not taking care of our own needs, or to firm and not respectful of the other person involved. It’s not about one or the other and dancing between is just confusing for those you lead. Kind and firm at the same time sounds like, “What ideas do you have for solving this problem? What support do you need from others?” Then we really do have to let go and believe in their ability to rise to the occasion. If we want them to be leaders, we have to treat them as such and let their successes and failures be their own. Part of that means managing our own anxiety.

Keep Your Brain In Mind
The biggest thing that gets in the way of modeling our values and leading with kindness and firmness at the same time is our brain. When we are mad, sad, or scared, we move into fight or flight mode and lose our ability to think rationally, to communicate effectively, and to learn. When you have flipped your lid, or someone else has, the first thing to do is take a break, and get back in your full brain. Deal with the emotions first, then the problem.

Ask, Don’t Tell
As leaders, we spend a lot of time stuffing knowledge in and wondering why it goes in one ear and out the other. No one likes being lectured, ordered around or talked down to. It puts us on the defensive and invites an immediate “no.” Focus on drawing out the information instead of stuffing in. “What was our agreement about screen time?” “What is your plan for completing that report on time?” Asking is much more likely to invite participation and cooperation from others. 

Focus On Solutions
When facing challenges, it is so easy to get wrapped up in blaming others, rationalizing why it isn’t our fault or our problem. We go round and round repeating our own perspective instead of hearing the other persons. Let go of who did what and look for solutions to the problem that are respectful of all involved. People do better when they feel better. Focusing on solutions helps us move away from blaming and come together as a team to solve the problem.

Encourage & Inspire Others Everyday
The biggest gift we can give those we lead, whether our coworkers, our classmates or our children, is encouragement. We spend a lot of time noticing what other do wrong and not so much time on what others are doing right. Something amazing happens when we believe in others and give them the space to grow. I’m not talking about praise here. I am talking about really connecting with someone. Saying, “I believe in you. I have watched you grow through other challenges, and I know you will get through this one too.” Remember, we do better work when we feel good about ourselves, when we feel supported and valued; so encourage those around you every single day.

Sarina Behar Natkin, LICSW, is a Seattle-based parent coach, speaker and author. Sarina offers parent coaching and classes, and frequently speaks at area schools and businesses. She is a Gottman Educator, Positive Discipline Trainer and has been featured as a parenting expert on television and radio. Sarina is a Seattle native and resides in the city with her husband and two daughters. You can connect with Sarina on her website,  Facebook and Twitter.