Leadership in the workplace is a lot like parenting. In the workplace you have a certain level of accountability and its your responsibility to utilise your team to get the job done. At home your children are your accountability and its your responsibility to raise them from the day they are born until they mature into adults.
When you examine both roles with more detail you can see they both require a similar skill set. To succeed in both parenting and being a leader in the workplace, you need; to have good knowledge in the field in question, the ability to admit when you have made a mistake, be able to show initiative and act without someone guiding you, have the compassion to be everyone’s go to person, and be a universal motivator no matter the situation.
Still stuck as to how they are similar?
To be a strong leader in the workplace you need to have a strong knowledge of the work being completed. While an excellent leader could successfully lead in any field, they would still need good working knowledge of that area. Knowledge can be learned and information can be taught, but leadership doesn’t come that easy.
Same as parenting. While you aren’t expected to know everything as a parent. A working knowledge of the basics is always a bonus before baby comes along. One third of your knowledge will come from experience (whether your own or someone else), another third will come from what you can learn yourself whether from a book or video etc. The final third which if we are honest is what most of us can relate to will come from doing the wrong thing. Not intentionally, but there are some things you only do once before realising maybe they aren’t a good idea.
Everyone makes mistakes. Its a fact of life. I could find a statistic to put in here but i don’t think its necessary. As a leader you are going to make mistakes. A good leader will openly admit they made the mistake. A great leader will learn from them. Its important not to dwell on the mistake but to keep moving forward and fix the fallout (if any) from that mistake.
Parents often make mistakes. They may not be obvious. Something simple like keeping the kids up too late and they get overtired, or forgetting to pack everything a toddler needs for an outing. Its OK to make mistakes, in fact in the early stages of parenthood when you aren’t getting much sleep, it’s almost a guarantee. What you need to do is not beat yourself up about it but move on from it.
For a leader this one is obvious, how can you expect to lead a team if you constantly are looking to someone else for guidance. You need to be able to show initiative and think outside the box, go beyond what is expected. What makes you an even better leader is if you can get your team to do the same, the more they can act without your supervision the better. Leadership is what happens when your not there.
Showing initiative as a parent is similar. You won’t always have someone to hold your hand and show you the way. You need to be able to think on your own and make your own decisions. When life throws you a curve ball and something happens that you don’t expect, you need to be able to react to that situation accordingly.
Go to person
As a leader in the workplace people will look to you when they are unsure. If they are confused about their role or simply don’t know what to do next, they will come to you. Its important as a leader you are not only comfortable with this, but can then support the person in question and give them the answer they need.
As a parent your kids are going to constantly be at you with questions. Why are we going out? Why can’t we go out now? Why do I have to get dressed? Why Why Why? – sound familiar? The trick is to be able to answer these questions in a way that will either (A) not lead to anymore questions on the topic, or (B) lead to some questions to already have a series of answers for. Don’t get stuck in a never ending loop of Why!
This isn’t just about being able to motivate everyone, its also about staying motivated through tough times.
As a leader in the workplace, a key part of your role is keeping your team motivated and on task. Every office goes through difficult times where budgets are tight and team morale drops. A good leader will stop these disruptions from having an impact on production, or at least reduce that impact.
As a parent this skill is used a little differently. It becomes more about staying positive through tough times. Like days on end without little to no sleep because your toddler is refusing to sleep. If you can stay positive as a leader in the workplace, try using that skill to stay positive as a parent.
So why the comparison?
Being a working parent isn’t easy. Yes you may get a break from one by leaving to go to the other, but there is also a certain level of guilt you will feel by being away from your family, even if it means you are supporting your family. A leadership role in the workplace can put extra stress on you, as can parenting.
So how do you manage to do both? That question has already been answered above. You have the ability, you just need to stay positive and believe you can do it, its all in your mindset.