I was watching my daughter dealing with my three-year-old granddaughter the other day and I was amazed at two things:
- how much my granddaughter has grown from a babbling two-year-old to a very coherent and smart three-year-old (plus a few other things that have nothing to do with this post)
- how much my daughter has grown up to be not only a great mom but a person who, all of a sudden, is exhibiting great leadership skills.
There is so much we can learn about leadership from raising young children.
This topic has been written about so many times but I figured after three years of blogging every week, it was time I piped in with my list of the six things that parenting teaches us about leadership.
- Our children need to trust us day in and day out throughout their lives. Without this trust, our relationships are at risk. So goes the leader in any organization and the relationship with his or her people. Trust is paramount to a strong and healthy working environment.
- My wife and I took a handful of parenting courses over the years. I’m sure it was quite amusing to our children every time we returned with the new parenting skills we picked up the night before. We would change our approach the next day and completely throw our kids off. The truth is that within weeks we were back to our normal parenting style which are children relied on and counted on. Parents and leaders need to be consistent with the approach they take to dealing with people. We can’t be up one day and down the other and we can’t change our parenting or leadership styles midway through the year. This throws people off and puts everyone on the defense. Consistency is what we are looking for from our parents and our leaders.
- As I look back at my years as a parent, this is probably the toughest part. My four children are very different with different needs and different personalities. They often complained that we were not being fair and they were most often right. The hard part is that in reality life isn’t fair and the way we deal with people: our children and our employees isn’t always fair. But it should be. As recipients, we want things to be fair. They should be.
- I’ve written many times about leaders managing change. Parents have to manage change all the time. Children grow up, things happen over the years to our kids that we need to deal with, and our family situations often change over time. We have to learn as parents to be agile, to be adaptable to the changes in life and in our day-to-day lives. And so goes our lives as leaders. We need to be agile in our approach to the work we do and with the people we deal with.
- Possibly the easiest attribute for parents but one that I don’t think translates well into our corporate lives. It should. We should bring the compassion we show in our personal lives to our jobs and to the people we work with. It isn’t always business. We all have personal lives and in this day and age the best leaders understand that and embrace it.
- I remember the craziest and funniest of times with my Mom and Dad. They were memorable because they were a little off-the-wall and unusual. We need to take our abilities to have fun as parents and translate that to our jobs and to the times we spend with our employees. I believe great leaders should be able to jump outside the normal, stir it up a bit and make everyone laugh once in a while.
Parenting is tough and so is good leadership. If this were the 1960s, we wouldn’t dream of trying to connect the two. Today is 2016. Good parenting and good leadership look good together. We just need to remember to pull lessons learned from one to the other.
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