3 ways Leadership and Parenting are alike
Yu might wonder “Why the parallel between leadership and parenting? What the heck has parenting to do with leadership? Has Stefano drunk koolaid?”
I have been a parent for a while, about 8 years now. I have two fantastic kids, a boy and a girl, that bring a lot of joy to my life and also give me a lot to do. During the same time more or less I also have become an entrepreneur, trying to be the best leader I could be for the people that have worked for my former company. In this journey I realized how leadership and parenting are not really far away from each other.
Leadership is a service you make for others and it’s a very tough job, at least if you want to be a good leader. Otherwise it’s simple: you just relax, whip people and wait for your mojito to arrive 😉
Have the courage of making decisions for others
To be a leader you have to have the courage to know what to do and on top of that you have to believe in it so much that you are able to convince others that that is the way to go. If you are successful (and I hope you will be) you have your employees’ lives in your hands.
Don’t take me literally, you still shouldn’t kill anyone but work is a huge part of our lives and affects so much of our well-being that it becomes our life.
I have experienced this on my own skin: I have been heading a team of about 70 people for about 4 years and I didn’t always have the right answer but I took the responsibility of making decisions which I thought were the best for the company and the 70 people under my watch. I made mistakes and it’s already difficult to make mistakes by your own but it took a lot to make mistakes for others.
Genuinely care for others
To be a leader you have to be capable of genuinely caring for other’s interest: even in the worst of times a leader puts other’s interest in front of his own. Good leaders don’t just give orders to others, that’s called something else than leadership. Good leaders have to convince people that the way they are going is the best way for all those who willingly follow them; putting others’ interests in front of their own, because good leaders know that if the group will succeed they will succeed with the group.
You have to genuinely care for other guys to be able to convince them that whatever you are planning to do is the best thing for everyone to be able to lead them. Nobody likes to follow a selfish leader.
Last but not least to be a leader you have to be able to trust others.
Trust is the ultimate act of leadership. Trusting that your people will do the right thing when you are not watching is difficult. Trust is not a default status in today’s world, actually quite the opposite. We are constantly skeptical of others’ intentions. Trust me!
If you don’t trust the ones that have put trust in you. you are going to be lost because you will end up doing everything by yourself. And a leader that does everything by himself is not a leader, is a warrior, a leader without followers has lost his mission to lead others to better places.
Looking back: a leader has to trust, a leader has to care, a leader has to have the courage to make decisions for others.
As a parent
And in my journey as a parent and as an entrepreneur I found out that that is not very different from being a father.
As a father everyday I need to make decisions for my kids. And even if I don’t know if that decision is the right one, I still have to make it and I have to make it for their own good. It starts from small things like how to dress your kids in the morning, I live in Finland and there can be two seasons during the same day. It’s freaking complicated… And it continues to way more difficult things.
As a father it goes without saying that I love my kids, not only care for them, and I will always put their interests ahead of mine (unless we are talking about the last slice of pizza at dinner).
Last but not least what I am learning now that my kids are growing is that I have to trust them because that is the only way how I can let them grow.
My job as a father is to create better persons than I am and let them create a better world for them and for their own kids. I believe that is the real reason why we are on this planet.
Tom Peters, a renowned leadership expert said that “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”
Good leaders and good parents have the same mission in this world, to lead, to let their kids grow and be better persons than their fathers and mothers, to create great companies and great teams that will outpace themselves.
That is the only recipe for progress.
Helsinki, 5th of October 2016
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