Can you remember the excitement of getting together with your childhood friends to set up a lemonade stand? That feeling of accomplishment when the first customer stepped up was exceeded only by counting your take at the end of the day.
As kids learn valuable lessons through operating their own sidewalk ventures, these enthusiastic little entrepreneurs can also teach us what it takes to be a great leader. Regardless of your field, you can apply these five “lemonade leadership lessons” to your own work, at any stage of your career.
1. Have a Positive Attitude
Have you ever seen a lemonade stand where the kids aren’t enjoying themselves? Their happy attitudes are a good reminder that when you enjoy your work, you’re more productive.
So it is with great leaders: they are seldom described as “pessimistic” or “dispassionate.” They bring a high level of energy, enthusiasm and excitement to their work – and inspire their teams to do the same. Even when things aren’t going well and there’s no proverbial line at the lemonade stand, leaders know it’s important to stay focused, productive and positive.
2. Focus on Communication
Lemonade stand kids are masters of communication. They naturally organize themselves, prioritize tasks and delegate responsibilities. They interact with each other and their customers. When they have a question, they ask it; and when they have a problem, they jump at the opportunity to work it out. Solid communication skills like these are a must for any leader, and a hallmark of the great ones.
3. Branding is Important
Put two lemonade stands on the same street, and you can be sure the kids will find a way to differentiate – or brand – themselves. Whether they offer a lower price or perform magic tricks, kids are willing to try almost anything to stand out and attract customers.
It’s just as important for leaders to create and maintain their own brand. Your personal brand helps your staff, supervisors, clients and peers know who you are and what to expect, day in and day out. Plus, with a positive brand, you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition when seeking advancement or a new position. Develop your brand by focusing on your competencies, achievements, and the value you bring to the organization. Incorporate it into your professional bio or other messages you present.
4. Be Flexible
What do lemonade stand kids do when business is slow? Some just stay in the same spot, waiting for things to change. Others create change by moving to a location with more foot traffic, adding new products to the mix or expanding their reach through creative marketing. The lesson here is that being prepared to try a different approach to a problem will garner better results than doing nothing.
5. Be Confident and Courageous
Kids know that taking on the risk of running a lemonade stand takes more courage than staying home and playing video games. The ones who step up have confidence in their ability to meet objectives and overcome obstacles. Taking on a leadership role is the big kid’s version of opening a lemonade stand: you need courage to handle bigger responsibilities, and confidence to face challenges. Sure, it’s easier to stay where you are, but if you’re a leader, the status quo will never be enough for you.
For Lessons on Leadership, Look to a Lemonade Stand
While the lemonade stand hasn’t changed much over the years, the business world certainly has. To be successful in a competitive environment, you’ll need a solid set of leadership skills and personal attributes to ensure you perform at your best. When you need inspiration, look to the nearest lemonade stand, where you’ll find important, timeless leadership lessons. And you just may make a child’s day!
This post was provided by Erin Palmer on behalf of the online programs from Villanova University. To help expand your own lemonade stand, Villanova University, in partnership with University Alliance, offers leadership training courses and to hire and manage your team, consider a Masters in Human Resources.