Being a parent of three small children (all under 4 years old) has been a great reminder that there really isn’t a more direct reflection of leadership than parenting. Baring any type of extreme circumstances for those of you who may try to be cynical, there are always exceptions to the rule.
The point I am trying to make is that as parents we should be our children’s example. And while no one is perfect, when you become a parent it is your responsibility to mold and shape these little people who are dependent on you.
The habits you model and expectations you reinforce are recognized and imitated, whether intentional or not. These little people are always watching. They are always observing. They soak in everything. Good and bad.
Our daughter, Aubree, was just over one-year-old when my wife and I decided that it was time to start setting the expectations for her manners. Just to be clear, I’m referring to her using “please” and “thank you.” Nothing more.
We worked at it. And yes, sometimes there were tears. But we practiced until the habit was formed and became an unconscious act. To this day, she might need a friendly reminder or a look if she isn’t using the correct manners, but all in all my wife and I are pleased with her progress of a simplistic yet necessary timeless principle.
I am sure the parents out there have similar stories of success with reinforcement and habits that are taught over time. I am also certain that there are plenty of other things my wife and I will teach our daughter, hopefully for the rest of our lives if we’re lucky enough. I know the teenage years will be a challenge (eye roll), but as a parent, I will never stop setting an example for my kids. I will never stop leading them.
Getting to the point: I believe the same holds true with people who are bosses in the workplace. Just like any parent, as a boss you can’t simply just tell someone to do something and expect success if they have never done it before. If that were the case our twin boys would be changing their own diapers.
We are rapidly heading into a situation where we are drastically underprepared in the leadership department. Take a look at the plethora of instances out there. You can literally take your pick at the examples of bad leadership. And what’s worse is this bad leadership is molding our future leaders.
Today it is more important than ever that the future leaders of the workforce get adequate leadership development. As a proud, card-carrying member of the Millennial generation, I can tell you that my peers and I are literally begging for it. We need it! And this necessary development cannot come from the type of leadership that got us into this mess in the first place.
There is a process that needs to happen when you are developing people, whether children or employees. Things take time. As a former athlete and quarterback, there is one thing that I have realized in my athletic career: I can’t do everything on my own! Sometimes there is a need for outside perspective and intentional coaching.