The seventeenth of our 20 Leadership Lessons Learned in East Africa: leadership starts with the family. When family leaders are strengthened and developed, children get better access to regular health checkups, early childhood education, and proper nutrition. Family leaders can act as mentors for youth, share skills with other parents, and organize others to work effectively toward common goals. They are key to developing stronger communities.
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Advocates & Family Leaders
This is Debo, age 4, from Arsi, Ethiopia. She’s a bundle of energy.
Debo’s father is the headmaster and teacher at a rural school and her mother stays at home with Debo and her younger brother.
Whether they know it or not, Debo’s parents are leaders and advocates in her life. Her parents advocate for her well-being, and grow as leaders as Debo and her brother grow, and as they develop as parents. They manage multiple responsibilities, solve problems, set rules for Debo, balance competing needs of the family, and make decisions that impact the group. These family leaders use and develop resources and align available services to strengthen their family.
So the big idea here is that if these family leaders are strengthened and developed, then it means that Debo can have better access to regular health checkups, early childhood education, and the proper nutrition she needs.
Strengthened family leadership can also help engage older children in dialogue and decision-making, enabling them to have more agency in their lives in a time when modeling effective leadership is critical for youth as they leave their homes in search of work.
In the early years of Debo’s life, having her mother and father as advocates and leaders sets her up for success, but it also impacts the community. Family leaders can act as mentors for youth, share skills with other parents, and organize others to work effectively toward a common goal in their community.
Debo needs this family leadership so that one day she, too, can go on to be a great leader, mentor, and mother.
Questions for Further Reflection:
- A caring family and a positive environment are important for childhood development, what leadership skills and resources might be useful for the parents to have to support their child’s growth?
- Why are family role models so important for a child’s future?
Tell us your big ideas in the comments.
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This series, 20 Leadership Lessons Learned in East Africa, was brought to you by CCL’s Ethiopia office and Leadership Beyond Boundaries, an initiative by the Center for Creative Leadership to democratize leadership development and unlock the power of human potential around the globe.
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