Leadership and Parenting

The more I learn about parenting, the more I realize how similar it is to leadership.  A few weeks ago I was in the restaurant and found myself taking photos and making videos of everything that wasn’t the way I wanted it to be and I posted these videos on one of our internal communication platforms.  I am self-diagnosed OCD, and I like things to be neat, clean, and organized all the time!  Sometimes I wonder, “how many more times do I have to say something?”  I often stand in amazement, pondering, how do people just leave stuff so unorganized and leave things that were dropped on the floor.  It drives me insane!  My daughter, Ellesie has the worst room I have ever seen.  Even after we spend hours cleaning it and she promises it won’t look like that again; but allow a few weeks to go by without accountability and it will look like a tornado hit.  At home and work, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that even though I have set my expectations verbally, I have to find ways to do it over and over again until it becomes the norm for everyone.  I have to consistently communicate my expectations way more than I actually want to.  Many leaders will default to a command and control, I’m guilty myself; “I’ve told you once before and I’m not going to tell you again…or else!”

The key to leadership and parenting is patience, persistence and perseverance.  It’s doing the little things over and over again, until it becomes habit for those I lead and parent.  Good leadership and parenting is a lot like getting fit, it doesn’t happen over night.  You can’t binge workout at the gym one day and expect to be an American Ninja Warrior the next.  Similarly, you can’t just read books and attend a few leadership or parenting seminars expecting to be different the next day.  It comes down to discipline and the daily choices you make over and over again to do the right thing, emphasize the standard again, and demonstrate what “right” looks like again.  

I’m always tempted to get angry, but then I remind myself, persistence and perseverance will pay off in the long run.  With children and with team members, what makes good leadership so hard is consistent follow up and accountability without being a mean parent or a jerk boss.  With six children at home, I often compare cleaning house to brushing your teeth while eating Oreos at the same time…it almost seems pointless.  The easiest thing to do is blow up and attempt to use my anger to control those around me.  Yet, parenting and leading with fear-based leadership will only result in temporary behavior modification, and when the person causing the fear isn’t watching, minimum effort is put forth.

I am reminded once again that my children and my team need my leadership.  They need me to be patient and treat them with honor, dignity and respect.  Yes, there is a point where my patience runs out and I have to respectfully tell some “I love and care about you, but you can’t work here anymore.”  Instead of “firing,” I prefer to call this an “honorable discharge.”  Fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often because the culture I create in my organization tends to bring out the best in people.  Now if I can just be patient and persevere enough to create that culture at home because I can’t “honorably discharge” my children!

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