David Trinko: Teaching your own child to be a leader

Apr. 29—It's one thing to say you're a leader. It's another to prove it.

It's quite a different thing to see your leadership skills transferred onto the next generation.

Last week, my sophomore daughter graduated from the Allen Lima Youth Leadership program during a meeting at the Lima Rotary Club. It's such a neat experience to see your child stand in front of a crowd of people and pitch a proposal for a community service project. (Youth can apply for next year's class online at bit.ly/3VhgKUI.)

It's doubly rewarding when you've spent her entire lifetime working with high school children on their leadership skills. I've volunteered with youth leadership since my own Allen Lima Leadership graduating class took over the youth program back in 2007. For the last several years, I've been chair of our volunteer committee, and I've been president of Allen Lima Leadership's overall board since the beginning of last year.

I've done that all this time because I can't overestimate how important leadership skills are in society. I have a passion for passing on tips and hints to maximize their potential. Being able to identify your team's strengths and weaknesses is a valuable skill, whether your team is some classmates at school, coworkers at the office, a construction team at the job site or even your family at home.

It's wonderful to see the youth progress through this program. We ask them to identify a problem they want to solve. We offer them presentations from community members and tips on identifying leadership styles and other skills. The real key, though, is their service projects, where they choose a community or school problem, work out a possible solution and deliver a compelling presentation with their solutions.

Few things make me prouder each year than seeing a group of generally sophomores and juniors from throughout the area grow in their leadership abilities over the course of the five days we get to spend with them throughout the year.

One of those few things that makes me prouder is getting to read your own daughter's name as she walks up to receive her diploma for graduating the class.

It turns out she liked having her dad help with the classes too. I learned afterward that any time there was some need for clarification among her group, my 15-year-old would promise to get an answer and bring their question directly to me.

We had interesting conversations on the way to and from these classes throughout the year, too. Some of it was about people and personalities, but so much of it was about the concepts behind being a great leader.

It's always hard for a parent to acknowledge when their children are growing up. Whenever I hear someone refer to my daughters as young ladies, it perplexes me, as they'll always be toddlers in some part of my mind, completely dependent on my wife and me for everything they need.

Of course they grow out of that. We're not teaching codependency; we're teaching leadership.

It's just so rewarding to see those lessons pay off so well, not just with my daughter but with all the young men and women in that class.

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David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.