In 1986 Robert Fulghum published a book entitled All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Contained within its 16 basic precepts are the building blocks of good leadership. They are:
- Share everything.
- Play fair.
- Don’t hit people.
- Put things back where you found them.
- Clean up your own mess.
- Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
- Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
- Wash your hands before you eat.
- Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
- Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
- Take a nap every afternoon.
- When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
- Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
- Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
Everything we need to know about leadership is in there somewhere: The Golden Rule, Cleanliness, Good politics, Ecology, Relationships, and Wonder. In particular, the following leadership traits can be extrapolated from these fundamental character traits.
1.Treat Everyone with Respect
Give people a chance! The best leaders are remembered for treating everyone equally. No matter the reputation of the person, always treat them with respect.
2.Find Your Weaknesses
We all have weaknesses that we do not see as clearly as those around us might. To be an effective leader, it would be beneficial to speak with close friends and family to discover what those weaknesses may be. Hiding and pretending that our weaknesses do not exist will only damage your reputation and send people away.
3.Lead With Vision
It is important for leaders to look 3-5 years into the future. Always think long term goals. It is also essential to communicate that vision or goal to fellow team members so that everyone is on the same page. In PR, it is important to have a large goal so that you and your client know what you are working towards.
4. Invest in Others
As leaders, it is important that we love those we work with. That we share all victories and accept all failures. To have high expectations for a team or an individual it is important to know them as a person. Otherwise, that team or individual will feel like they cannot meet the leader’s expectations.
All of these crucial habits of good leadership can be found in the instructions we received at a very young age from our parents and from our kindergarten teacher. The learning curve in being a good leader, then, is not in knowing what to do. It is, rather, in intentionally adopting the character traits of kindness, respect, honest communication, creativity, and good sanitation to our everyday interactions with customers, team members, and employees.
By Ailis Bull, Junior Account Executive, Communication Department