I've read a tweet a while ago about this topic, what leadership and parenting have in common, but back then I could barely get my head out from the sand to see what all this parenting is about.
One thing got clear though:
You were not born a leader as you were not born a parent.
But both of them can be taught.
We are talking about love when it comes to our children, but we are not used to talking about those kinds of feelings when it comes to our staff, nevertheless, our mind rejects the idea of having such feelings at work. But, as you will see below, in many cases when dealing with life situations with your kids or with your staff, you end up applying similar patterns.
As a side note, when I entered maternity leave, my manager told me that when I am going to be back at work, I'm going to have a completely different approach with my team. But until then, here is what I found out to be the common key points between parenting and leadership.
Empathy is crucial when raising kids. And so it is when managing people. If we nurture empathy in our relationship with our kids, it gets easier in helping them feel understood.
Why shouldn't we doing the same thing with our staff? It happens a lot for them to be frustrated too, feel they are overwhelmed by their tasks, they might have conflicts with each other. You don't have to give your employees a hug, but be there, listen to what they have to say, show them that you understand what are they dealing with and give support, even in the cases when you cannot change the thing that generates the discomfort.
It's not at all about you, it's about them
Well, this is a hard one - to acknowledge and accept that it is not at all about you anymore, but about your kids or your staff. They should be in the first place when you're making any decision which might have, one way or another, an impact on them.
As a parent and as a leader you have the responsibility to create a safe place for your kids and your staff to perform and develop. Create a safe place to play, to experiment, to try different things, to learn new things, but offer them that net they're needing in case they are going to fail.
Failure is always good, remember to tell this to your kids and your staff, but more important, be their lifeguard when they're falling.
Know when to step back
After providing the safe place for experiments you are now free to take a step back. Are they struggling with that new toy or that new programming language they're using? Well, as hard as it may sound, let them try, fail, do it again, fail again, and only give them some hints when asked.
Making a step back it always gives confidence to your kid or your staff that you trust them and you're avoiding to micromanage every individual and situation.
Learn when to intervene.
Or patience, patience, patience.
Maybe almost every parent and leader has days when s/he isn't in the mood to hear his or her kid's yells or his or her staff complaints. It's ok, you're not alone, there are good days and not so good ones. We're humans.
But patience is a skill you need to learn when you're becoming a parent or a leader. Because kids and people, in general, tend to grind your gears in specific situations. The power of patience helps you think rationally and deal calmly with the day-to-day problems.
Be a good listener
You don't have to always act, the first step should be to listen.
Sometimes people just need someone to hear their thoughts or their problems without judging them too much nor interrupting them nor be focused on giving a reply. Maybe there's no reply needed at all.
Encourage the speaker, be it your kid or one of your employees, by asking questions to be able to understand their problem. Helping them answering the questions might be more than enough than offering your solution.
Your kids and your staff have to trust you first then to follow.
But how do you gain trust? By trusting them first, by being a good listener by hearing and accepting what they have to say and by showing them empathy.
Both as a parent and as a leader you have to keep your word and be the support they're needing.
Show them you care
Because you do, right?
It is their success
Even when you stood behind it.
As a parent and as a leader you rarely receive the credits for success, because you don't actually need them. When you see your kid or your staff performing at their best, that is enough for you, you know that your job was done and it was good.
Lead by example
We all agree (I hope) that the fundamental aspect for both parenting and leadership is leading by example. You cannot simply ask someone do to the things that you're just preaching about, but not doing them.
Nurturing empathy, being a good listener, cultivating trustworthiness, being present, and showing them that you care, involving yourself in their activities by guiding them, delivering what you promised, these all should help you be the leader your kids and your staff need.
As I said in the beginning, no one was born a leader or a parent, you become one. And both as a parent and as a leader, you're a permanent student, you're still learning things every day. There is no recipe for being a perfect parent or a perfect leader, it is only your way of acting and performing the role. And maybe neither your kids or your staff need a perfect leader. Needs you to perform at your best.
Let parenting or leading people become your lifestyle and as Simon Sinek is saying
"The more you understand about parenting, the more you understand about leadership, and the more you understand about leadership, the better parent you become".