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Why Good Parents Make Great Leaders

I need to come clean with you.  Open kimono.  Full transparency.  The naked truth.  Here it is:

I’m tired. 

I’m cranky.

I have less patience with others. 

And I’m a better leader and person today than I used to be. 

parents-leaders-425“What are you talking about Brandon?  What could have happened to you?  After all, you used to be so ‘nice’.”  My answer is three words: I HAD CHILDREN, three of them – a girl (Abbigail, 13) and two boys (Noah, 10 and Aaron 8).  Through my own journey as a parent, I have become convinced that parenting can be one of the best training grounds for leadership.  It is a trial like no other.  It forces you to determine what you stand for, defend those beliefs, set boundaries, make sacrifices, consistently and clearly communicate your expectations and hold others accountable on a daily basis.  Sounds a lot like leadership, huh?  And like leadership, most people are not very good at it.  The unholy truth is that there are many more ineffective parents than there are effective ones.  Go to any public place and you’ll find more lazy or failing parents than you’ll find parenting rock stars.  How can you tell?  Easy.  Just look at their kids.  If you see children exhibiting any of the following behaviors, you’ve got clear signs of ineffective parents: rudeness, anxiety, disrespect, whining, paralyzing fear, abuse, self-centered attitudes and demanding “prince and princesses.”  These are all signs of parents that do not lead.

Want to avoid all that stuff and be an effective leader at home?  Consider the following traits of parenting rock stars:

Effective parents:

  • Set a culture of what is acceptable and not acceptable clearly, consistently and regularly
  • Are not afraid of initiating conflict and must always be prepared to lecture, punish or deliver time-outs at the drop of a hat.
  • Must be prepared to hold the line. A parent’s authority will be challenged on a daily basis.
  • Are committed to their leadership team first and foremost. The most effective parents are committed first to their spouses and second to their children.  Parenting is not a democracy where everyone has an equal vote.
  • Focus on developing their children and recognize that they will likely have to adjust their development approach for each child in order to be effective.
  • Are master cheerleaders.  They love their children unconditionally and let them hear and feel that love on a daily basis.
  • Communicate what is going on in the world and what it means to the family in a way that reinforces values and lowers anxiety.
  • Raise their children so that the role of parent is no longer necessary. Effective parents strive to raise healthy fully-formed adults that contribute to society (and others) positively.

Is leadership in any business or organization materially different?   And yet, we rarely give parenting its proper due.   In an effort to be politically correct, we tend to downplay the role of parenting as if it is equivalent to some sort of hobby to be taken up on the weekends like adopting a puppy or joining a skeeball league.

Parenting is hard.  Leadership is hard.  Over the next few posts, my hope is to make you more efficient and effective on both fronts.

In the meantime, get off my lawn.  I’m taking a nap.