What have my kids have taught me about leadership?
Fatherhood has transformed my leadership style. Parenting and leadership are not synonyms but they are intimately related. At the core, I believe parenting is about developing leaders. Isn’t the core of business to develop great leaders?
- Dance: If you dance well then they will begin to mimic your every move. As a parent this is a scary thought. Often in business we don’t think those we lead will dance like us but they do.
- Sleep: My wife deserves high praise for her parenting skills. At the top is her dedicated commitment to the sleep patterns of our kids. I personally learned about the value of great/long sleep by watching the behavioral difference between kids with good sleep and kids without. It’s amazing. Leaders don’t talk enough to their employees about sleep, but we should. There can be a case made that an employee with great sleep habits is a happy, thoughtful and energetic employee – this becomes contagious employee.
- Emotions: Have you hugged those you lead lately? (VIDEO) watch this 90 second video to answer this question.
- Clear Direction: If I surprise my kids and say, “It’s bed time right now” I’ll get push back. I almost never get push back when I say, “10 more minutes till bed time.” In 10 minutes they are ready for bed. Employees just need clarity of direction without surprises.
- Decisions = Core Values: Major decisions are rooted in a core value. Do you know the core values of your kids? Last week one of my kids seemed to be making an odd choice and I could not understand the decision. Then I asked, would you make the same choice if one of your friends wasn’t part of the trip. “Absolutely not, I would make a different decision.” One of his core values is “quality time with friends.” Most major decisions are made from core values. Do you know what the core values of those individuals you lead?
I think we can all sometimes be reminded of how important it is as leaders to find ways to “hug” those we lead. So as we move into the following weeks, how can you be nurturing those around you, those who support you, and those who depend on you?
Comment on this post Linkedin and tell us your creative ways to develop those around you, or those who you influence for a chance to win a Starbucks gift card. Because to be effective leaders, we must have caffeine!
Big ponds or small ponds?
Every parent or leader should read chapter 3 of Malcolm Gladwell’s, David and Goliath when he argues, “It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a little fish in a big pond. Most often highly intelligent students enter the big ponds of Ivy League schools, only to be washed away in a sea of big pond frustration.” Gladwell argues that our chances of success are exponentially higher in small ponds.
I started to wonder how to create small ponds of success across all areas of life. In the video my son Cyrus was struggling one night with math until I created a smaller pond.
A small pond might be as simple as creating an achievable goal.
Ponds are a metaphor for measureable and achievable areas in your life. What if we created smaller ponds for ourselves and not try to compete against everyone?
Here are 5 Perspectives creating depth to your ponds:
- Compete only against yourself. If I’m always competing against others I can never win, there is always someone smarter, wiser, richer and more selfless than me.
- I’ve never been a big goal setter, but now I’m starting to compete against myself and in the process creating a game out of it. The internal success is interesting to watch…no goals needed.
- One way I have started to do this was tracking my time daily; “my time” is now a pond.
- In the video my son was trapped because leading up to completing the timed math test he felt like a failure, the pond was too overwhelming, only until he succeeded did he feel successful. The power of success is interesting to watch in a kid, which works in adults as well.
- Ponds are everywhere once you start thinking this way. Once you have defined the measurable – let the games begin, against yourself.
There will always be Olympic-type outliers who succeed in big ponds but they are exceptions and are most often only the exception in one specific area of their lives. Continuously expanding the depths of my ponds and challenging the width of those around me will create the opportunity to become the outlier when opportunities are presented.
Let the games begin.
1. Continue to seek beyond the surface of my own fear by asking a simple question, “What lies do I tell myself to keep environments (MBA) safe?” There is no better exercise for your (MBA) than watching M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological metaphor in The Village and ask yourself this question: “who lives in the forest?” – Watch it and get back to me.
2. In the book, Son Rise, Barry Kaufman describes how he and his wife affected their apparently hopeless autistic little boy. “They began their cure, by making a point, for hours at a time, imitating everything he did. This was the door or path by which they led him or persuaded him to come back into the everyday world.” How Children Learn, Holt. This leads me to ask how well am I connected to those I want to lead?
3. Recently my wife told my daughter Grace, “It’s ok to make a mistake – that is how we learn.” Surprised, Grace said, “it is?” We cannot motivate others out of their fears. We can only provide a safe place for them to develop. I need this reminder, more importantly; I need to provide it to those around me.
4. We all have the fear the failure. I’m convinced those who have the ability to identify and manage their fear of failure have the greatest chance to successes in their MBA. There is no better description than Michael Jordan’s poster … “I’ve missed 10 thousand shots……that is why I succeed.”
5. If you have ever taught someone to swim you would think correct kicking or dog padding would be the first lesson. Actually, learning “to float” is the essence of swimming and most who do swim never learn to truly float. If those around me are comfortable enough “to float” their development will flourish. Therefore, where am I not creating a safe place for people around me?
See Frozen in Fear (2min) which sums up how powerful it can be when we “identify our fears.”