Childlike vs. Childish

leadershipYou could learn a lot about leadership from a child.

As the father of three young children, I’m daily reminded how wonderfully exasperating kids can be. One minute they’re sweet and pure and glorious, the next they’re bawling, selfish and stubborn. They’re little amplified versions of you and me—unapologetically parading around our vices and virtues—without that veil of propriety we grown-ups prefer to hide behind.

Unfortunately, in our rush to “mature” and stamp out the impropriety of youth, we often discard the positive aspects of childhood—to our detriment as leaders. However, those who successfully feed their childlike passions, while starving their childish ones, grow up to become our most captivating and inspiring leaders. Think Mother Teresa, Walt Disney or Nelson Mandela.

Childlike Leaders are:

Childish Leaders are:

How do you pursue childlikeness while avoiding childishness as a leader?

6 thoughts on “Childlike vs. Childish”

    1. Interesting—from all I’ve read about him, I’d put Steve Jobs more in the “Childlike” camp and not so much in the “Childish” camp.

      For Childlike:
      Curious, Creative, Active and Emotional are givens to me. As for Joyful & Trusting I’m on the fence. Humble definitely doesn’t come to mind with him.

      For Childish:
      I don’t know anyone who would describe Jobs as Unfocused, Unreliable, Flippant, or Naive. He’s a maybe on Fickle & Unstable. You’ll definitely find support for Selfish.

      So, on the balance, I think he leaned toward Childlike.

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