by Sebastian Oros
If you’re a parent and a leader in the office, you may have noticed some interesting similarities between work and home. As a leader in your organization, some scenarios with your kids may seem familiar. It makes sense – you’re operating as a leader both at work and at home. In my experience, good parenting can also provide some cross-training for leading at work. Let’s explore how.
I’m a parent of four children. My wife and I intentionally try to model expectations so our kids can actually see how we want them to behave. We get a limited number of hours with our kids each day (between 6-8). Coincidentally, that’s similar to the number of hours many leaders get to spend with employees throughout the course of a day.
Kids and adults both learn from what they observe. Any other parents catch themselves wondering, “Gosh, how did he/she hear that?” (Raises hand). Though adults aren’t necessarily so obvious, they will emulate behaviors that are normalized in the workplace.
As a parent, we know this, and we try to show our kids healthy behaviors. Do we do it perfectly? Heck, no. Does this mean we’re not good parents? Also, no. Being a perfect parent isn’t the goal.
Focus on the Big Picture
The same is true at work – you’ll never be a perfect leader. It’s not a realistic goal to be a perfect example 100% of the time for your employees. Instead, at work and at home, our goals should look similar:
- Build a solid foundation
- Empower those who follow us
- Move through failure to the other side
- Sustain long term growth
As a parent, I’d never throw in the towel just because I had a bad day. Think along the same lines when you lead at work. Aim for improvement and consistency over perfection.
Validate Different Styles of Leadership for Different Team Members
Good leaders aren’t carbon copies of each other. My wife and I have different overall parenting and leadership styles. However, there are common threads that allow organizations and families to operate in a healthy way.
Similarly, our four children are very different…in the same way that our employees are different, too. There’s room for differentiation in how we handle things based on background, personality, and individual strengths.
Yes, this is a ton of work. Parents can attest that it’s especially difficult with children. However, the work is necessary to continue helping each child navigate the world. It’s also necessary to help your team members succeed.
Be Open to Learning
Here’s where the conversation hits close to the bone. As both a parent and a leader, you may feel that you should have things figured out. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s humble, painful, and yet rewarding when you learn from your children. In today’s world, I could argue that my kids know so much more than me on several topics. I’m not talking about the math homework that continues to get more complicated…although that is frustrating. It’s not important to be a superhero. It’s our job to show our kids that failure is inevitable, but it can lead to growth.
The same is true at work. Stay self-aware and vulnerable in your own journey. You will learn from your employees if you stay curious and humble. Model how to handle mistakes and changes in direction. It’s the way to lead with heart.
Take a moment to reflect on your own leadership. Do you need some help in learning the right balance? We’d love to talk about your organization and the challenges you may be facing. Reach out to book a consultation.