I can tell you first hand that being a father is not easy! I have three children the ages of 15, 12 and 9. They are all wonderful children and unique in their own ways. As a recent Dayquil commercial so aptly demonstrates, there is no “day off” from being a parent. We may not always get it right, but we have the best intentions for our children, much like managers do for their employees in the workplace. We must be a leader, coach and manager to our kids, as they look to us for guidance, direction and general oversight.
In celebration of Father’s Day, I’d like to highlight a few additional parallels between parenthood and leadership which have served as life lessons that have been instilled in me (or that I’ve learned along the way!).
Be a role model, mentor and “guide.” Too often, parents get trapped into being a friend to their children, rather than maintaining that “divide” where there is mutual respect and understanding of the family roles. The same goes for managers of people, especially those thrust into the role of managing what used to be their peers.
Be clear about your expectations. My wife and I have learned that we must always be on the same page with regards to how we parent our children, from communication to discipline to consistent treatment of all of them. The same goes with management. You must be aligned with other managers in the organization in how you reward high performers and discipline those who fail to embody the values and ethics that are outlined. Employees notice when there is “preferential treatment”, much like your children do. Be fair and consistent in your actions.
Help identify strengths, interests and development opportunities. Development plans are common in the workplace as a means to help employees accomplish desired objectives and reach goals. At home, we must take a tailored approach to growth and development of our children, both personally and professionally. It is important to have conversations to uncover interests and seek out the right opportunities for them to pursue. In both situations, stretch goals are vital to helping people reach their full potential and tap into their talents.
Parents – like leaders — are very important to shaping lives and contributing to the betterment of society, and neither should be taken for granted.