5 ways being a boss is like being a parent

Article06_Image_father-daughterFirst, from me, Burt Jackson, think of the father as the parent. I think fathers are special and not appreciated.  Regardless of how bad or absent our own father (or boss) may have been, we all know in our heart what a good father (or boss) is.  The rest is something I found for you.

ONE: You are being watched!  You may have heard it said that the culture in an organization is a direct reflection of its leadership.  In my experience, this has proven to be true.  Whatever practices, belief systems, or habits the leadership possess, the organization as a group will mimic.  Parenting isn’t much different.  You may find that you children will start to pick up on your habits at a very young age.  Their expression, thought process, and values will amazingly reflect that of your own.

In both scenarios there will be times of both pride and embarrassment, as your habits will be revealed to you by those you lead at the most unexpected time.  Be on your best behavior!

TWO: Performance is best achieved through meaningful communication.  Sure, being a boss means you can be as heavy handed as you want.  Like being a parent, you “should only have to say things once” right?  Well, I believe that both the corporate world and the modern family dynamics are changing fast in this generation.  Communication plays a bigger role than maybe it once did.  While it is true that “discipline” is just part of the job for both parents and bosses, meaningful communication is a secret weapon when it comes to cultivating the best in those we are leading.  Employees and children often share the never ending search of trying to understand what it is exactly is expected of them.  Only one person has that answer.

We all process valuable information best via meaningful communication (talking AND listening to what is important about performance expectations).  Particularly at times when it isn’t the obvious time to do so (i.e. when in trouble).

THREE: You control the weather.  Believe it or not, as a boss, your team is vulnerable to the energy you emit.  You can design an environment where your employees have all the resources they need to grow or you could cut off their supply chain and starve them into a famine.  This is what often what many measure as “organizational health”.  While the weather can change any and every day, there is a general climate for each work environment.  As a parent, this isn’t much different.  A child’s day is often subject to whatever kind of “mood” a parent is in or their habits in administering what is needed to meet parental performance expectations.  Like employees, children need to grow, and there are some fundamental and natural needs to feed that growth, lest you increase the risk of an undeveloped child.

Design the kind of climate that is known for favorable weather, not the kind of climate that requires preparation and contingency equipment.

FOUR: Conflict Resolution.  Problems, problems, problems.  It seems like it never ends, but that’s OK, because that’s what you’re here for!  The workplace seems to often be loaded with conflicts and issues.  Some of them critical… some of them petty, nevertheless you’re responsible for resolving them.  The life of a child can also be very complicated and full of challenges, issues with high stakes, and yes, stress.  Some of these critical…some of them petty, nevertheless, you’re responsible for resolving them. Be a good sport about it, and remember that just because it may be petty to you, doesn’t mean that it’s petty to them.  Also, don’t be surprised or irritated by a continual flow of problems.  That’s part of the job you volunteered for and it is the significance of your participation, should you chose to do so.

Leading others is a gauntlet of unpredictability.  It is important to exercise your tolerance and practice/master your welcoming speech to those who look to you for help.

FIVE: Giving more than taking.  Being a leader unfortunately can often be a position where you are expected to appreciate the performance of others while at the same time being forgotten for your performance.  You may find that your lifestyle if very much centered around giving to others that don’t always appreciate your efforts.  But, there is a strong sense of self-satisfaction that comes with giving more than taking.  When your performance and leadership is complete, you have something that no one can take away from you, and that’s pride.  Be proud of yourself and others, and reflect on what is possible when the roles of a community are functional.  Or, you could choose the insecure path and seek the praise and worship from those you lead every step of the way to “make a name for yourself” by using others to take more for yourself.  But there’s nothing special or lasting about that now is there?

Contrary to popular belief, being a leader isn’t a position of privilege, where you kick back and collect.  Instead, it is an office of legacy for which you will indefinitely be remembered.

What are your thoughts?  Is being a boss like being a parent?  What would you add to this list?

Burt here, again. This article reprinted by permission of the author: Gary Watkins, PfMP, CPCM, PMP, 6σBB, CPD

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