You Don’t Fire Your Children? Leadership lessons from parenting

What do you do when there is a dip in performance of your child at school? How do you respond when you find that your child is not very engaged at home? How do you respond to your children when they fail? How do you respond when your children get caught in sibling rivalry and conflict? What do you do?

Parenting and leadership

You don’t ‘fire’ your children, do you?

There are a lot leaders who can learn from the experience of parenting. Not just what to do but also what not to do. You don’t have to be parent, but just having observed or experienced your parent you get a lot of insights.

Dip in performance – When you find that your child’s performance is dipping and not to the potential or expectations, you do try to understand the challenges the child faces, identify the root causes, and providing coaching and mentoring to develop in the areas you found him to be weak. You are willing to invest in private tuitions, remain patient and provide an environment which will help your child to hone his skills and thrive. We don’t see that often with business leaders today. In the mad rush to meet the numbers and drive results, leaders are not sensitive to the human need of a strong ‘circle of safety’ of their team members.

Lack of engagement – As parents we are willing to invest considerable time and effort just so to ensure that our children feel engaged and sense of belonging to the family. Parents are also able to quickly sense if the child looks distant and disengaged. They don’t allow such lack of engagement to linger for long. You see parents engaging in long conversations, trying to find out what lead to such distance and the activities which interest the child. They try hard to meet those expectations. When parents fail to identify such disengagement or lack of interest in the child, they cause a lot of low grade stress and anxiety. In today’s day and age of long work hours and stressful environment this disengagement is acute and leading to stress affecting children of all age groups. Aggression and suicidal tendencies are commonplace around the world. As leaders are you investing enough time and effort to get your team engaged? Are you leading them towards workplace aggression and suicidal tendencies (in this case, deliberately not contributing enough to their role)? Why not do what you do with your children to your employees too? The large number of employee engagement programs are an indication that we have not being doing enough in the past.

Conflict – When children get into conflict both with their siblings and their friends during play, parents act as excellent facilitators who try and resolve the dispute in an unbiased way. They are willing to sit down with the concerned parties and without taking sides understand both sides of the story and attempt to get a win:win resolution. They are sensitive to the fact that any bias will impact one or the other adversely and aggravate the situation. Parents use excellent ‘negotiating’ skills to maintain family harmony. Leaders can take a leaf from the parental way of dealing with conflicts and learn to deal with workplace conflicts in a more meaningful way. This can greatly contribute to a collaborative workplace which values win:win approach.

Failure – We always heard from parents that ‘failures are stepping stones to success’. Parents are much more kind to our failures and provide all the motivation when they see that we are down and out after committing errors or mistakes. The first example of such motivation is when the child learns to take its first baby step. We fell so many times in our attempt to walk but the parent never is disappointed or disheartened. Rather the parent is delighted that we have atleast made an attempt. You also see that parents call up their friends and relatives to announce that you have made an attempt to walk or speak out your first word. Don’t you think that is what made us who we are today? If they were critical in the first instance or many subsequent attempts, the child in us would have completely withdrawn and we would have been still crawling our way to our office. Do leaders take to failure kindly at workplace? Are they willing to spend time and energy in motivating their employees to rise from the fall and lead them to success? Is there a lesson for you as a leader in this?

What are the other lessons you can think of? Please feel free to add in your comment.

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