Arush Chandna is the cofounder of Quad Education.

Any discussion around leadership poses this one age-old question: How are leaders made? Are they born with specific qualities, or do they develop them through prestigious programs and years of experience?

I think it’s a combination of both, but more importantly, as leaders, our skills should constantly evolve based on which stage of our professional and personal lives we’re in. Parents, for example, who are also business leaders, have the perfect opportunity to grow their leadership skills not just at work but more so at home—especially during the college admissions process.

The college admissions journey is one of tribulation and triumph. As a parent, you’re right by your child’s side, navigating the anticipation, excitement, anxiety and stress. Parents become the steady hands guiding their children through the whirlwind of applications, essays, tests and, ultimately, decisions. While you are primarily focused on securing your child’s future, it’s easy to overlook the profound impact this journey can have on your professional growth and development as a leader.

Patience As A Virtue In Parenting And Leadership

The college admissions process is the ideal time to practice patience through your actions and mindset. This journey is full of uncertainty, delays and setbacks, which is a test of patience for even the most composed parents. It’s a long waiting game: waiting for your student to start writing their dreaded college essays, waiting for test scores, waiting for financial aid decisions and the ultimate decision and so on. Yet, it is through this waiting that we learn the art of patience—a skill at the cornerstone of effective leadership.

Considering college applications are a marathon, not a sprint, parents must accept and embrace the slow flow of progress and setbacks, trust in the process, maintain unwavering faith in their children’s abilities and stay focused on the big picture.

While the fast-paced world of modern business may seem to favor those who can deliver results as quickly and efficiently as possible, the ability to exercise patience amidst uncertainty is what sets exceptional leaders apart. A patient leader can handle crises and challenges with a calm demeanor, inspiring confidence in those around them.

Team Building For Parents And Professionals Alike

It takes a village to apply to college. As college admissions get more selective, it requires a collaborative effort between parents, children, teachers and admissions consultants. As parents navigating this maze, you can inadvertently hone your team-building skills. This can teach a great deal about the power of delegation and the importance of leveraging each other’s strengths.

Whether it’s dividing tasks among yourself and your child, one tackling essay editing and the other SAT prep, seeking advice from teachers or tapping into the expertise of admissions consultants, you can learn to recognize and utilize each team member’s unique talents and resources.

The lessons learned from this collaborative effort ripple past college admission into the realm of professional leadership—instilling a deeper understanding of the power of teamwork. Just as you might strategize to optimize your child’s chances of admission, you can apply similar tactics to optimize productivity and efficiency as a leader.

Confident Children, Strong Leaders: The Parenting Link

To help children become independent and confident adults ready for the next chapter of their lives, parents must strike a delicate balance between offering support and allowing children the autonomy to make their own decisions. As tempting as it may be, you must resist the urge to micromanage, impose your aspirations on children or live vicariously through them.

Parents must draw boundaries and guide a place of confidence rather than mistrust in the child’s potential and abilities. Letting go of control can be extremely difficult for parents, but it will ultimately prepare the teen for adulthood and leadership. Just as parents must trust in their children’s capabilities, effective leaders must trust in the abilities of their team members and allow them autonomy. Further, similar to how trust and confidence from parents are vital for young teens, team members also look to their leaders for encouragement.

Rejection, A Catalyst For Resilient Leaders

With some college admission rates as low as 3.5%, parents, along with their teens, must confront one of the most difficult aspects of the process: rejection. When college decisions are not what you hoped for, parents find themselves grappling not only with their own emotions but also with the task of guiding their child through this challenging experience. It’s a moment that requires empathy, resilience and the ability to inspire hope in the youth despite some of their dreams being crushed.

As a parent, you must tread carefully after these rejections, ensuring you provide support and sympathy while also pushing children to persevere. You must validate your child’s feelings of disappointment and acknowledge the significance of their aspirations. Simultaneously, you must remind them that rejection is not a reflection of their worth or potential but an opportunity for growth and self-discovery—a task that is far easier said than done.

Leaders also have a unique chance to model resilience for their employees, which is a skill that is highly valuable in their professional lives. Experiencing disappointment firsthand better equips leaders to understand how support and motivation are key for team members, too. With these experiences, as a parent and leader, you can draw on a broader set of tools to inspire hope and resilience in your teams, leading with greater empathy and understanding.

Final Thoughts

The college admissions journey has the potential to become a shared path of growth for you and your child. As you celebrate the successes and push through the setbacks of this journey with your child, it’s important to embrace the opportunity it presents for your professional career. It’s not only about securing your child’s future—it’s also about shaping yourself into a better parent and a stronger, more empathetic and resilient leader.

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