• Akila Venkatesh

How to help children develop people skills that can truly change the world

The 3 A's (and 4 c's) of collective leadership

(This is the 3rd weekly post of 9, delving into the key concepts of the In Good Hands weekly E.M.P.O.W.E.R.E.D. summer challenge. You can access the overview of the challenge here, get a workbook for your child here, or just read this post on its own--you'll learn a ton either way.)

People skills are obviously essential in building well-rounded children and community- oriented members of society. Parenting sites and books abound with tips and strategies on teaching children to share, cooperate, and navigate social interactions (younger and older children alike). These are all essential in their own way, but I'd like to introduce 3 alternative and powerful aspects of developing people skills that really tap into the foundations of developing socially conscious children (which, as always, we must develop in ourselves too ;)). I have organized them as the 3 A's (and 5 c's) of collective leadership: Advocacy, Alongside, and for All.

There are various defnitions of collective leadership, but my own version is basically a person who operates from a collective mindset more than a personal mindset (both are imporant, but the former takes precedence). They consider the greater good and work in honour of this vision on micro and macro levels. Here are 'Akila's 3 A's':

A: Advocacy

The collective leader advocates with and for those who deserve to rise up and be heard. Through such advocacy, the collective leader empowers themselves and others. It's a win-win. This may be a parent advocating for young people's opinions/voice, or a child advocating for a peer who ought to be included. It's those with white priviledge advocating for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). When parents model and guide advocacy skills for their kids, they teach their child how to cooperate, listen, and share in deep, powerful and socially conscious ways.

A: Alongside

The collective leader works alongside diverse communities. They listen to other groups, particularly marginalized communities, in order to be better advocates, and they work alongside or with them. A compassion and respect for the equal value of all human beings resides deep within, and as such, there is an awareness of, and ability to, counteract the negative effects of a hero/saviour mentality. When parents listen to children and work alongside their children, their children also learn to work alongside and advocate for others.

A: for All

The collective leader considers the common good over individual growth and operates from this perspective in the micro and macro activities he/she engages in. This leader operates from a paradigm of what I call the 4 c's: 1. connection (feeling spiritually/energetically connected to all other beings and the universe), 2. community (considering the community/the commons/the collective good as a priority), 3. cooperation (putting personal interests aside in order to cooperate with other groups), and 4. cumulative investment (acknowledging that their position is the result of the cumulative investment of the people, generations, and systems who support them). The 4c's take precedence over the paradigm personal growth, and contribute to empowerment for all.

This week's EMPOWERED activity for your child (described in the guide) is a gateway into the collective. It's one small activity, but when parents adopt a collective paradigm and start having conversations about the 3 A's, the messages children absorb through these activities foster socially conscious attitudes and family values. You are a torchbearer for the next generation. What you light up in them, can change their collective world.

Pick one of the 3 A's or 4 C's and comment below and let me know how you use or plan to use them in your life. We are building our collective community here so please share your voice and let's create a conversation.

#leadership #collective #advocacy #ally #empowerment #whitepriviledge #BICOP #blacklivesmatter #cooperation #peopleskills #community

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