“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” – The Apostle Paul
Four childhood games teach us valuable leadership lessons.
King of the Hill
I remember when a friend’s Dad dug a pond on his property and by doing so created a mountainous pile of dirt. It was perfect for a game of King of the Hill.
We would race-climb up the hill, shoving and pushing other kids aside. The first one to reach the top became King of the Hill. To maintain his position he would push and shove down any kid who tried to take his place.
King of the Hill is a nice kid’s game, but it’s a game leaders shouldn’t play. We all know the positional leader who shoved others aside to ascend to his position, and then protects his turf by pushing others down.
Bad leaders put others down. Good leaders pull others up.
Lesson: Leadership isn’t about pushing others down, it’s about pulling them up. (Tweet This)
“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up” – Booker T. Washington
Follow the Leader
Another childhood game we played was Follow the Leader. One kid was the leader, the rest of us were the followers. The object of the game was for the leader to make following as difficult as possible.
The Leader would go under things, over things, through things, around things, making it hard to follow. The followers would become exhausted, disoriented, and finally give up.
We all know leaders who are difficult to follow. Perhaps they lack integrity, empathy, people skills, or vision. We don’t want to follow them.
Bad leaders are hard to follow. Good leaders make following easy.
Lesson: Leadership isn’t about making following a chore, it’s about inspiring others to want to follow you. (Tweet This)
“Leaders know the way, go the way, and show the way” – John Maxwell
Hide and Seek
I can still remember leaning against a tree, counting out loud “one, two, three…one hundred,” as the other kids ran and hid. It was a game of Hide and Seek.
The object of this game was to become the best one at hiding and the last one to be found. The last one found won the game.
Hide and Seek is a nice game for children, but when leaders play it, the organization suffers. We all know leaders who are not good at handling conflict or challenges. These are the leaders who rather than face a challenge head on, instead go into hiding.
That’s not good leadership. Bad leaders hide when the going gets tough. Good leaders are accessible.
Lesson: Leadership isn’t about hiding during challenging times, it’s about leading from the front. (Tweet This)
“In business, as in war, the best leaders are those who lead from the front lines–who commit themselves fully to the mission…and…the common goal” – Justin Moore
Blind Man’s Bluff
We usually played this game in the big backyard of my Grandparent’s house. On kid was selected to be the “blind man.” We’d tie a bandana over his eyes so that he couldn’t see, spin him around a few times, and then, while hiding in plain sight, challenge him to catch us.
The object of the game was for the “blind man” to grope around trying to touch the other players. They would avoid the “blind man” while teasing him and tempting him to change direction.
We all know leaders who are like the blind leading the blind. Leaders without vision and without a clear direction. These leaders are constantly changing course. They are weak and easily influenced by people and issues calling for their attention.
Bad leaders have no vision. Good leaders know where they are going and how to take their people there.
Lesson: Leadership isn’t simply activity and being busy, it’s having a clear vision which excites and compels others to follow.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” – Proverbs
There you have it. Leadership is pulling people up, it’s inspiring others to want to follow you, it’s leading from the front, it’s having a vision that excites and compels others to follow. Good leaders don’t play games.