12 skills that leaders should (re-)learn from babies

The fantastic evolution of babies and the extraordinary number of things that they have to learn in their first year and a half requires equally exceptional skills and abilities. Unfortunately, some of these skills are “unlearned” over time. The good news is that they are still there and you can “re-learn” them and improve the quality of your attention and intention and become a better leader and a better person.

  1. They keep trying: watch a toddler learn how to walk. Between 12 and 19 months old, they fall on average 17 times an hour! How many times do you allow yourself (or others) to fail before giving up (or calling others “losers”)?
  2. They synchronise with other people’s body language and emotions. They smile when you smile, they feel sad when you feel sad, they laugh when you laugh. This is the best unconscious influence technique and fastest shortcut to establishing rapport.
  3. They feel and express empathy: we have all witnessed or experienced children’s natural drive to help if someone hurts him/herself. Of course empathy is not always associated with the work environment, but empathic leaders get much better results from their teams and that’s a fact.
  4. They are curious, creative and positive. They are solution-oriented and they never think “this will never work” or “we’ve done this before”.   It’s trial and error 101 with a strong belief that whatever is resisting them will be overcome eventually.
  5. They observe and adapt: watch a baby learn from its environment. It takes all the information it possibly can, from every sensory system. This is how babies and toddlers learn how to adapt to external conditions.
  6. They copy the best in others: thanks to hours of observation, they learn how to excel in every discipline and just copy / paste to their own behaviours.
  7. They trust their emotions: they feel when something isn’t quite right. Just how they react based on that is, of course, another matter. I’m not suggesting leaders should throw a temper tantrum when things aren’t going their way…
  8. They experiment and question hypotheses until they figure them out. If you’ve experienced this phase when they drop stuff on the floor about a 1,000 times to understand that objects that disappear from their sight don’t disappear altogether, you know what I’m talking about.
  9. They are authentic. They are who they are and do not wear masks. Authenticity is one the most appreciated quality in leaders.
  10. They move and spend a lot of energy by being physically active. Research has shown the many benefits of physical activity, not only for the body but also for the mind and the mood.
  11. They day-dream, which is the earliest form of meditation. This too has been proven of great value on both physical and mental health.
  12. They nap after a good meal and sleep as much as they need. Luckily as adults we don’t need to sleep as many hours. But sleep deprivation is associated to higher stress, poor nutrition patterns and reduced creativity.

I started this list with 9 points, and can’t seem to stop! The more I think about it, the more skills I find that babies have, from which we should inspire ourselves to think and act better.

I’m sure I forgot many more! Which skills do YOU think we have as babies and should unlock to become better leaders?