How To Raise the Kind of Leader Others Want to Follow

By Head Coach Kisa Davison

In my Spider Monkeys class in Whitefish, I gave a child Move of the Day, because he did well in class. But I learned not long after, that he was hitting another student when the two of them were lined up for their breakout session.

Both children were responsible, but I got on Maddox’s case, in particular, because I hold him to a higher standard. He wears a blue gi.

Most of the kids in our Growing Gorillas kids martial arts program think that the blue gi is a status symbol, and it is. The blue gi represents a student who has earned their place on the Leadership Team, or in the case of the black gi, the Submission Samurai. To wear a blue gi, Growing Gorillas have to prove that they are worthy of wearing it.

Raise Them to a Higher Level

However, we expect much more out of our young leaders than simply strutting around in a blue gi. The status of a “leader” in Growing Gorillas comes with responsibility. We expect them to set positive examples for their teammates.

I told Maddox that with his blue gi, I expect him to be a leader. If I’m a leader do I hit my other teammates? Of course not. As a leader, you keep your teammates safe, but most importantly, you set a positive example to the other kids.

To be fair, Maddox was in a tough spot. Think about it. If somebody attacked you like that, what would your first instinct be? To stick up for yourself and fight back.

Maybe it would make you feel better. You’d protect your ego, but if you’re Maddox, does that make you a better person?

Does it make your teammate a better person?

Does it make your team better as a whole?

Of course not!

If you want to raise future leaders, then you have to hold them to the standard of leaders. You have to teach them to:

  • Have character.
  • Invest in others.
  • Raise their teammates to their level.
  • Do the right thing even when it’s not easy.

When you harm or put down others, then you create a world where others are harmed.

When you treat people with respect and kindness, then you create a world that is filled with respect and kindness.

To raise future leaders, teach them to be the leader that others want to follow.

For more information about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Yoga, Fitness, and Kids Programs, call 406-752-7244, email at, or visit the website at

Photo Credit: Ary Dalton