As leaders of children we have choices to make about how we lead them. Do we want them to grow into orderly citizens that look to leaders to solve their problems? Perhaps we want to support them to have agency and make decisions that will improve their own lives?
A timely article called The Rise of American Authoritarianism attempts to explain the rise of Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. Political scientists have been using four questions about parenting goals to reveal personality tendencies that prefer authoritarian leaders.
- Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: independence or respect for elders?
- Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: obedience or self-reliance?
- Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: to be considerate or to be well-behaved?
- Please tell me which one you think is more important for a child to have: curiosity or good manners?
According to the article, authoritarian leaders are:
"simple, powerful, and punitive"
As a student of leadership, I have noticed that leaders fill a need. The need, the followers of Trump may be simple, they may just want someone to make their own realistic fears go away.
Unfortunately, collectively we have not done the right things to help people feel they have agency or the ability to lead themselves. Fear looms large in the minds of Trump's followers and those who may be on the verge of following him or a future authoritarian leader.
I envision moving this conversation in a positive direction. Usually conversations about politics get into finger pointing. When we do that we end up being a lot like the media and politicians we blame.
Instead take a breath. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and join me in making a realistic list of actions we can do to get us all through this difficult period so we can create a future for the next generation.
Cup of Leadership is...
a blog for people who lead children.
Deanne Bryce is a writer for young children and an advocate for personal leadership at all ages. This post is part of a series of posts where we engage in a virtual coffee chat. It is a chance for people who lead children to take a break and reflect on leadership strategies. In addition we get to virtually visit coffee shops around the world in order to gain a fresh perspective. Suggest a virtual visit or leadership topic by connecting on Facebook or Twitter.