Parenting and Leadership are two full time jobs many of us have taken on. They may have different settings and challenges that are specific to each; but they share one apparent similarity: Responsibility. With Parenting, it’s the responsibility of good upbringing and providing a safe, nurturing environment for your children to flourish in. Leadership on the other hand carries the responsibility of accountability, trust and empowerment that you owe to your team as they grown within the organization. Good parenting is all about listening to your children and being consistent in your behavior with them. It’s also about communication, respect and being a role model they can look up to. Leading teams is no different; as a leader it all applies and it is a requisite for teams to become successful.
As leaders recognize the commonality between the two realms; they can start to realize the merit of transferring their experience from one side to the other. To a large degree we employ the same ethics and moral principles at home and at work; seeing that our core values cannot shift back and forth during the course of a commute. Having said that, one precondition to succeed in this is being self-aware about how effective your practices are with your children as well as how they are with your teams. That is when one can start appreciating his strengths and conceding to his weaknesses in order to decide how the leverage the first and rectify the other.
Having been a parent longer than a leader, the collection of experiences in attempting to raise my two daughters (now on the verge of their teen years) outgrows my ventures in leading teams. When I look at it, my children (as with many others) started to show signs of a strong personality very early on. In fact, researchers believe that a child’s personality starts to develop during early childhood all the way until their adolescence when they start to become mature individuals. And it never ceases to amaze me how this evolves over the years while resting on strong foundations that my wife and I were able to establish. What’s more interesting is how certain traits they have developed can be brought into the workplace to make teams stronger and more effective. The following are some of the qualities that I saw in my daughters as signs of two future strong & independent women and it is my belief that any leader should embody them, myself included.
With the myriad of activities available to children today, the last thing they want to be spending time doing is homework. However, when it is sent upon them, it automatically takes priority because they understand the consequences of abandoning it. When looking closer, I see commitment, ownership and resilience as traits that are embedded in their mindsets; and that successful teams are in need for in order to thrive. A leader’s responsibility is to instill and encourage these behaviors. Leaders should ensure that their teams have direction; a clear set of objectives that provide meaning to their day-to-day work. Roles and goals have to be set properly to steer away from redundancy and internal competition. And feedback needs to be provided to avoid the team’s sense of direction being de-skewed as they perceive their mission to be different from what it really should be. This all means that accountability has to be an integral characteristic of a leader for him as he attempts to exemplify it within his teams.
Wall climbing can be daunting to children with fear of heights and injuries, and my daughters approach this very differently: while one jumps in feet first and addresses obstacles as they come; the other takes her time to prepare and tackles the challenge when she’s ready. In both scenarios, they are able to conquer their fears and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it. A leader without determination would just give in when their team is not functioning or when it is too difficult to tend to their issues. This can be a clear sign of a leader’s absence of motivation and empathy towards his teams needs. Both traits are important for the development of Emotional Intelligence which is the foundation of good leadership. With enough determination and resolve, a leader will employ as much intelligence as social skills to negotiate solutions, build networks of support and drive change management; all with the purpose of ensuring their team’s success.
The bond that exists between siblings is a holy one; it is a relationship that is based on trust, support and kindness. To me kindness has a more profound meaning from its literary one; it’s about being at peace with yourself and the ones around you and having a genuine willingness to do good. I see that in those two little girls as they interact with each other and I also see that it is an incredibly powerful quality that allows for the individual and the leader to stay away from the noise and focus on what matters. A leader who embodies this will have a clear vision of the future and where he wants to take his team; he will be able to understand people’s motivations, good and bad, and navigate with his team to prosperity. Additionally, it is consequential that this become part of the team spirit. Once this occurs, conflicts will dissolve and collaboration will increase as teams realize that they share the same objective and that they are being fairly rewarded.
I’m going to keep looking in my children for additional qualities that I can be inspired from to grow as a leader. And I invite you to do the same. You will be amazed.