Leadership lessons from children’s TV shows.
They say there are leadership lessons in everything if you stop long enough to pay attention. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to watch TV and, unusually for me, some children’s shows. Some of those shows are constructed exceptionally well to share important lessons with children in a way they can understand.
I’m beginning to think it’s time we adults revisited children’s TV with our learning hats on. Whether you’re a CEO or an emerging leader, there’s never a time to stop looking for new learning points.
Here are a few leadership lessons I’ve picked up on.
I love the Muppets, don’t you? Far from being the funny show for kids, it’s full of life and leadership lessons. Have you ever considered the way the characters interact? They are a mishmash of personalities and attitudes, from precious Miss Piggy to drum-thumping Animal, yet somehow, they manage to get along.
The secret to their success is Kermit. He’s a powerful leader without fist-thumping or bellowing orders. He is calm, he consults with the others, he’s empathic and emotionally intelligent. He tries to understand how other people think or feel, and he helps the characters collaborate and look for the positives. I think we’d all be better leaders if we picked up a few of Kermit’s characteristics.
Have you ever paid attention to the words in the classic song “People in Your Neighborhood”? Here’s an excerpt:
The cleaner is the one who knows
How to clean and press your clothes
He'll take a jacket, suit, or vest
And clean it so you'll look your best
The song teaches that everyone has a skill or role which is important in getting things done. It’s easy to overlook the people who work out of your direct sight but without them, the workplace wouldn’t function well. The leadership lesson is that everyone has something to contribute if you look for it and consider the benefits rather than limitations.
Have you watched Bluey? It was pretty much new to me although I knew the character. It’s a family who are representative of many Australian families, so it’s relatable. Each little episode is a fun story, but it always ends with a learning point based on emotional intelligence. It’s about sharing and caring, considering others, learning to cooperate, and making time for each other. Its strength is the focus on people, not events. As an example, the parent characters pay attention to what their children say and help them work through difficult situations and emotions without imposing a solution.
These are the interpersonal skills leaders need to apply in the workplace. You might think you’re already doing it but when you watch the process in action in Bluey, I guarantee you’ll learn a few things.
Children’s TV has a lot to teach us – empathy, diversity, inclusion, creative problem solving – and all that in one episode of Playschool! I’m loving the lessons our kids are learning while watching these shows, but I think there’s a place for leaders to learn from them, too.
If you feel you need more than TV can give you, consider leadership coaching and together we can work out what you need right now to get you to the next level.
Which is your favourite children’s TV show and what leadership lesson does it teach?
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Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished former CEO, Award-Winning Executive Coach and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience-based to achieve rapid development and growth.