3 Ways Being a Parent Can Prepare You For Being a Leader at Work
There are all manner of synergies between parenting and managing people at work. For starters, they are both thankless tasks. Your small child isn’t going to thank you for everything you do for them. They don’t even know everything you do for them. If you told them, they wouldn’t understand it. In the same way, employees don’t thank middle managers for their hours of middle managing. Managers get the thanks of being talked about behind their backs while being envied and hated by the members of their team.
This is not the only similarity between the two roles. As a parent, things your kids do might not be your fault. But they are always your responsibility. If your kid breaks the neighbor’s $1,000 picture window, you are the one who is going to have to pony up for the bill. Good luck collecting it from your small child who neither has a job nor gets an allowance. The same kind of thing happens at work. When your team underperforms, you are the one who gets the blame even if you did everything you could do with the lot you were given. Here are a few other ways being a parent can help you prepare for your next promotion at work:
When you are trying to help a child through a bad patch, you have to provide a mix of instruction, encouragement, and creativity. You have to become a creative coach if you want to get the best out of them and help them overcome bad or unproductive habits. If you are having trouble getting your child to stop biting their nails, you might try the latest nail biting polish formulated for safety and effectiveness. What you don’t want to do is yell and scream and become visibly frustrated if they don’t respond to your best efforts. Everyone is different and some habits dig deeper into some than into others.
The same is true at work. Your team might have picked up many unproductive habits from past leaders. You will have to employ creative coaching to get those habits to change. They might not immediately respond to your best efforts. But that is not a failure either for you or for them. It is a matter of steady progress and small victories. With a bit of creativity, you will be able to get the whole team across the finish line together.
One of the common leadership myths is that you must be charismatic in order to excel. That is not at all true. Some of the best leaders don't have a charismatic bone in their entire, boring body. What they have managed to do is become comfortable with who they are. They have learned to maximize their strengths and present themselves as authentic. In the business world, authenticity is more powerful than charisma.
As it happens, the same is true in the parenting world. You do not have to try to be a supermom to be the best mom your kids can possibly have. You don’t have to be funny, or strong, or skinny, or anything else other people think is so important. Your kinds will respond to your genuine, loving, authenticity. If you try to be fake, your kids will eventually see right through you. If you are authentic, it will teach your kids to be the same way. At work and at home, authenticity wins.
Plan Ahead for the Next Phase
Even if you are a first-time mom, you are aware that your newborn will not stay that way for very long. They go through various stages of maturation. The time goes by quicker than you think. You have to learn to plan ahead so that you are prepared for the stages as they come. The same is true when managing a team at work. The company, like everything else, is going through constant change. Priorities and policies are always changing. You have to be on top of that change and plan ahead so that your team is never left behind. It is your job to see the future and have a plan for when it comes.
Being a leader at work is a lot like being a mother. You have to excel in creative coaching, lead with authenticity, and have a plan for what lies ahead.