5 Expert Tips for Raising Strong Leaders

PHOTO: A teacher and a student look at a globe in this undated file photo.Getty Images
A teacher and a student look at a globe in this undated file photo.

It's one of the most common problems of modern parenting: How to raise self-sufficient kids while also letting them know you're always there for them?

Dana W. White, the author of "Leader Designed: Become the Leader You Were Made to Be" said we need to look no further than our own homes for the answer.

In her book, White explains how family can play the most important role in developing a future leader. She's shared with ABC News her top five tips for raising a strong leader.

1. Lead by Example. Children are human video recorders, White said. "They are listening and watching everything you do. As a parent or a sibling, learn to "embody and adapt the characteristics that you most want to see in your child," she said.

2. Invest Faith. "The greatest investment a parent can make in a child is daily deposits of faith. Tell a child who they can be every day," White advised. "Believe in them to live beyond any circumstance. Paint a bright picture of their future. If you tell them where they can go and how to get there, they’ll chart the course."

3. Serve. Great leaders serve others, White told ABC News. "They think 'we' not 'me,"' she said. And they are humbled to put the welfare of others ahead of their own. "Being a parent is the most selfless job out there. And it is why our parents play a critical role in determining what kind of leader we become," she said. "Strong leaders take pride in meeting others' needs. When parents consider their role a privilege and not a burden, they teach their children pride in helping and supporting others. And a person who selflessly helps and encourages others will be followed anywhere."

4. Empower. While it can be difficult for parents to let go of their children, it’s the role of every parent to raise a child who can survive and thrive on their own, she said.

"A parent must practice empowering their child throughout his or her life in order to realize their own potential and aspirations. Empower and enable can often be confused," White said. "Empower means to prepare for a task. Enable means to assure a likely result. It’s not the same. Empowering is about the child. Enabling is about the parent. Parents create strong leaders by trusting their children to use the tools and the knowledge to achieve their goals."

5. Mind your words. "Studies show that what we tend to remember the things we hear longer than the things we see," White said. "This doesn’t mean you lie or tell your kid everything is great, but it does mean you tell them that you believe in them and that you expect them to do their best.

White's suggestion: Tell your children that they can do anything that they set their mind to do. "I wanted to be an astronomer," she recalled. "My father said, 'That’s great, but you know there’s a lot of math in astronomy. But if you want to, I know you will.' "I didn’t like math and I didn’t want it enough, but my dad let me know that he believed I could and that made all the difference in the world."

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