“It takes a village to raise a child.” Or does it? Hillary Clinton made this saying popular in her 1996 book of the same name. Often claimed to be an African proverb, that origin is debated. However, there are several sayings in different African cultures with a similar meaning. The saying has a nice ring to it, but is it real wisdom?
The idea promoted by the supposed proverb is that the upbringing of a child is the community’s responsibility.
- The community is responsible for teaching the morals, values, and ethics of that culture.
- The community is responsible for that child’s education.
- The community is responsible for the health and well-being of that child.
I don’t think so. Why?
“It takes a village…” implies that the family is not important.
Here’s a better proverb:
It takes a family, with village support, to raise a child.
It’s too bad that doesn’t roll of the tongue as nice as Mrs. Clinton’s version. Oh well. Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes it doesn’t sound as good either.
According to this proverb, the upbringing of a child is the family’s responsibility.
- It is the family’s responsibility to teach a child the morals, values, and ethics of that family’s faith and how to live responsibly in their culture.
- It is the family’s responsibility to oversee a child’s education in preparation for independent, effective adult living.
- The family is responsible for the health and well-being of the child.
What about the “village”? The community’s role is to encourage, assist, guide, and often provide hands-on help to that family. But the primary responsibility is the family’s.
This is a leadership blog. What has this got to do with leadership? Well, quite a lot actually. First, effective, Biblical leadership is required to implement the “It take a family…” philosophy. Whether you’ve given your life to Jesus or not, the leadership principles of the Bible are the best model for living and leadership. However, that’s not my point today.
My point is:
It takes a family, with village support, to develop a leader.
What is a leader’s family? It is a small group of deeply trusted fellow-leaders, advisors, and mentors. It is a few people whom you implicitly trust with all areas of your life. In the picture above, you see two of my leadership family members—my fellow blog authors. I can go to Robert and Greg with any area of my life and leadership and I trust their confidentiality and their wisdom.
What is a leader’s village? It is a support system of training, professional associations, colleagues, and the general community of leaders. The leadership village is where we get resources, ideas, and models (good and bad). The leadership village is where we get opportunities to lead.
Most leaders do a pretty good job of contributing to the leadership community and even better at utilizing its resources.
Unfortunately, most leaders have done poorly in cultivating a leadership family. What can you do today about that?
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo by author.