6 Skills Parenthood Taught Me About Leadership

by | Jun 9, 2021 | Featured, Insights, Make Change Suck Less

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Out of the Mouths of Babes

If you’re anything like me, you’re looking for clues about how to live and lead better everywhere. And if children are part of your life in any way — they provide ample ways to test and grow our skills in both living and leading. Here are the top 6 skills I’ve learned from my nearly quarter-century of parenting.

1. Be open. Their perspectives and opinions are their own – and not always the same as mine. They provide me with a window to reflect upon other ways to think about things I always thought I understood comprehensively.

2. Listen. Really listen. When you listen deeply and intensely you will hear beneath the words and catch a glimpse of the drivers, fears, and motivations. That’s when you find out truly what’s going on.

(By the way, when you really listen, as I have done with many of coaching clients’ teams, you often discover surprising blind spots. Once addressed, these blind spots open the channel for much deeper #engagement and #productivity.)

3. Be flexible. Same parents, same upbringing, and yet such different personalities, interests and needs. This has required me to be agile in how I support, protect and encourage them as individuals, as well as how I maintain the cohesion of our family unit. Yes, they need some of the same things from me …and in addition, they each need something slightly different. (Think mass customization minus the AI!)

4. Be humble. It is unimaginable what they know that I don’t. From world history to biology to calculus to sports and contemporary music. I’d be so incredibly ill-informed if I thought I knew it all. They teach me at least as much as I have ever taught them, even (especially?) when we disagree. Which, not lying …can be really, really hard. The secret sauce for a great outcome for a heated inter-family disagreement: Both parties need to actively tame their ego. When that happens, a solidly researched disagreement can lead to major growth for all. For me, this one’s actually easier to muster at work than at home.

5. Let go and trust. The more I let go of them, the more magical they become; each a free-standing, unique young adult with skills, talents and aspirations that are theirs alone. And yet we three share a deep and fiercely loyal connection to each other. I daresay we are each other’s biggest fans. This really is what’s at the foundation of engaging hearts and minds, isn’t it?

6. Love. They have tested my patience, my boundaries, and my expectations. But they are my children and no matter what, I will always love them. Over the years, they have fed my wellspring of hope, compassion and empathy in equal measure. I have not loved everyone who has ever worked for me — but I have loved many of them. And still do. In the worlds of work and leadership, consider this one a bonus.

Schedule a Complimentary Clarity Call with me today explore what leadership lessons you have already discovered in your personal life that you can repurpose and amplify at work.

Tracy Benson

Tracy Benson, Founder and CEO, On the Next Page, provides executive coaching to senior leaders and their teams in Fortune 500 companies across industries, including: healthcare, pharma, energy, technology, consumer goods, manufacturing, hospitality, defense and financial.

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