Over the last 5 years of being a parent, I would venture to say that I have learned more about leadership than any other time in my professional career to date. It has required more self-discipline, perseverance, intentionality, and self reflection than anything else I’ve ever done.
There was a moment one afternoon where I realized that our willingness to look at ourselves is a willingness to lead our kids in the way they should go.
We had an absolute meltdown situation on our hands as my oldest daughter wanted to be pushed on the swings, when I knew that she had the ability to pump herself. This caused me to think about many other moments when she wants something done for her rather than taking the initiative to do it herself. On this particular afternoon, I realized that I couldn’t enable her any longer, it was time for her to take the leap and learn to do it herself.
Our kids' tendencies (good and bad) can come from us as parents - so I had to stop and look at what we were doing that might be the cause of this tendency.
When my husband and I talked later that night, we talked about examples of this in her, and then we talked about the possible "roots" of the issue - for myself - the lack of self sufficiency came from having a "lack" of emotional connection with my parents growing up - this created a desire to go deeper - so I'm always feeling like I want to make sure that I'm connecting with my kids, but sometimes there can be a downside to that. I can lean too far to the "connected" side in making sure I'm sitting down with them face to face, talking to them, and in that I'm breeding dependence instead of independence in some areas that they need to learn to do things for themselves.
For my husband, it came from a place of having a dad that was sick for most of his life, he understands the value of precious time and doesn't take one minute for granted. So from his point of view, the value of time means spending it on what's most important - and to him that's his family. I value this trait in him and consider it an absolute blessing - but we also talked about how that can produce dependence from our children because he can want to do everything for them.
We had to separate out the difference between connecting and spending time with them and producing self-sufficient kids.
We talked about some solutions:
Identifying tangible things they are not doing that we need and want them to do to be a part of our family team.
Traits: what character traits do we want to focus on developing?
Routines: what routines such as chore charts and morning or pre-bed routines can they do that we are currently doing for them?
Heart work: we talked about what each of us individually needs to do to recognize and deal with our "stuff" so that we can be better parents.
It's hard, and tiring, and very very intentional, and we don't get it right even half the time, but we do try to keep it real with our kids and tell them when we mess up, and ask for their grace, so that they can learn from our mistakes.
How this translates to leadership:
As a team, where are you “filling in the holes” for your team mates with things that they should be doing that they’re not?
Where are your “blind spots” as a member of the team and what can you do to work on them?
What routines or tools can you put in place to help you become intentional about incorporating self reflection into your normal processes?
If you’re able to execute on these things, how will it impact your team?