Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
As a wily veteran of parenting and corporate management, what I appreciate most is the ability to watch my kids grow into adults where you can share and engage them in more modern styles of leadership. A shared leadership of trust and transparency where servant leadership begins to take root.
The challenges associated with raising young kids are squarely at odds with leadership today. The autocratic style where you are the ultimate authority setting boundaries and providing discipline is not found in successful companies. Do you want to see someone head straight to ZipRecruiter, treat them like a child.
New managers may not always have the leadership understanding fully in place as it is something that is typically learned through experience and observation. Many times, the experience that they do have could be as young parents managing the challenges of raising kids. The Trust is not built-in as with the relationship with your kids, at work it must be earned by your actions and deeds.
Helicopter Parent vs Micromanager
Just like it is much easier to recognize when another parent is a helicopter parent, so too is it easier to recognize when another leader is a micromanager. We all know the well intentioned parent who schedules every play date and can be found hovering nearby to prevent their fall or paint their picture. Planning out the lives of their kids, orchestrating every step and decision to ensure that they do not fail.
We also are familiar with the micromanager boss who proofreads every report, makes you run every decision through them and wants to be copied on all of your emails. It doesn’t seem like a plan or experiment is ever correct unless they are able to add a change to make it better. You are not sure if they don’t trust you or if they don’t think you are capable of doing the job.
Don’t Make My Mistakes
The need of parents to protect their kids is natural. You try to teach and prevent mistakes from happening. You don’t want your kid touching the stove to see it’s hot like you did. So you go out of your way to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes you did like quitting the track team, dumping your date the day before prom or jumping your bike off Rabbit Hole Hill.
You have probably heard the definition of FAIL: First Attempt In Learning. At work, we can use processes and procedures to help provide guidelines, but employees need to understand challenges and risk mitigation. They don’t need to be told what to do and simply execute, they need to understand so that they can grow and help their job improve and develop. Sharing experiences and wisdom is a lot different from telling people what to do.
Personally, my leadership mistakes are vast and cover the gambit. I do try to share my experiences with others so that they can add to their collective knowledge base, to help make them aware of potential risks, but in the end, it is their choice on whether or not to accept the advice.
Shared Vision vs My Vision
Studies show that the more recent generations that are entering the workforce have a greater need to be impactful and part of something larger. Because of this, it is extremely critical that leaders are able to work with their team members to create and refine a shared vision. In past generations, the leader would set the vision and everyone would then work towards that vision because it was their job. But today, people want to understand the why and even want to have a say in the vision. Communicating early and often is essential to aligning and growing the vision.
In his book Stop Living on Autopilot, Antonio Neves states ”The best thing that happened to you hasn’t happened yet!” How powerful of a message is that? Whether talking about your kids or your work team, the goal is for them to fly so that they can soar on their own.
My Way or the Highway
“Because I said so.” How many times was that phrase uttered in your house growing up? Again, it might have been effective back then but this is a different time. Heck, it was a different time when I, as a Gen Xer, was growing up as I always wanted to know why - even to the point of frustrating coworkers. But I needed to understand the reason so I could get on board and be part of the solution.
At work, you empower your team and work with them on skills and relationships so that decisions are made by those closest to the action and not having to “run them up the ladder” and await the blessing before moving forward. In a lean, fast paced company, waiting for bureaucratic responses is the difference between World Class and shutting the doors.
Leaders lead. That’s what they do. Whether they have the title to back them or not. Be empathetic. Treat people with respect. Encourage ownership of the problem AND the solution.
At work, you earn the trust of your employees base on your actions. You walk the walk. You live the values and demonstrate your foundational principles. You show respect for the rules and processes. The love you show them and that they see in you. The respect you show them and others and the respect that others show to you. Living life with them and not through them, is the key to seeing them take flight Beyond Today.
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.