Leadership is a lot Like Parenting
Coaching, Consistency, Patience, Tough Love, Honesty, Learning from mistakes, Accountability, Teamwork, Execution and Praise are among the many things I have learned over the past 20 years of being a Mom. There are a lot of times as I make my way through my day or week where I realize that these are the same lessons I have learned about being a leader. The lessons we teach our kids are ones that we don’t always hold ourselves, or our leadership teams, to in the workplace.
I don’t know about you, but when our kids were small, I kept having these moments where I would say to myself “am I really a parent”? I still felt like I was young and had a lot to learn. As the years have gone by – I have gotten more comfortable and confident in my parenting skills (doesn’t mean I don’t always do it right or that I feel I am really good at it) and that I am now at a point that I am willing to admit to myself that I have earned the title. I don’t know the moment in which that occurred but as I am seeing other parents with small children – I find myself being able to give perspective or encouragement to let them know that they will make it through to this point just like I did. I think we unexpectedly reach that point in our leadership journey as well. Not that we stop learning or that we have achieved any great milestones…it’s just that we have experience and scar tissue that can help us navigate through various different situations.
Here are some thoughts around why I think Leadership is a lot like Parenting:
- Consistency is key. We cannot expect that just because we tell our teams something once that they get it. We have to be consistent in our messaging, in how we set expectations and in how we praise or give feedback to them for what is working or not.
- We have to be their coaches and mentors. It is our job to ensure they are the best that they can be and sometimes that means tough love and other times it means just giving love. We have to help them find their way and not just tell them how we did it even though it kills us to do it that way
- We have to be patient – they won’t always get it the first time but when they do get it we are the proudest people on the planet!
- We have to let them make their own mistakes even though it may be painful for us to watch. The key is – we have to be accountable for them and ensure that the mistakes we allow them to make do not put them (or others) in harm’s way
- You and your fellow leaders have to be a team. We can’t let teammates feel like they can play one against the other and have politics undermine the relationships. United we stand – divided we fall.
- We have to inspect what we expect if we ever have a hope of seeing them execute to what we need them to do. We need to be honest, compassionate, give praise where praise is due and be willing to take action when things do not go the way they should have
I had a couple of sayings for my kids when they were young that could also apply to leadership:
- If we had to go shopping for a gift for a family member or friend – before we would go into the store I would say “we are thinking of someone else today, not ourselves so we will not be buying anything for you. This is not about money – it is knowing that it is not always about you and caring/thinking of others is important”
- When the kids would want to do something (like stay up late or go somewhere) I would always say “I may not be able to do exactly what you are looking for at the time you want to do it but I will always try my best to give you an alternative that I think will work. In those cases, I want you to focus on what I am offering you not on what I am NOT offering you” I didn’t want their disappointment of not getting their own way stop them from getting to do something equally as good. Work to negotiate to common ground and that requires listening to one another and accepting compromise.
Leadership questions of the week for YOU: “What have YOU learned about leadership from being a parent that you incorporate with your teams?” “What sayings or examples do you have from being a parent that reminds you to be a better leader?” “What leadership lessons or practices have you been able to translate into your parenting style that have been successful and eye opening?”
Thanks for reading and remember....YOU make a difference!
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