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Leadership and Parenting: Two sides of the same coin

, July 30, 2015, 0 Comments


Are Parenting and Leadership both skills that one can develop over a period of time? Yes, certainly. One of the ways, to become aware, develop and sharpen these two very essential skill sets in personal and professional life is to be able to see and understand the common line of threads running between both, very similar to each other, that continuously feeds into the development of each other.

Both leadership and parenting can also be termed as life skills, as life skills are nothing but, “abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is believed; practicing these skills effectively not only uplifts self, but brings about an impactful fulfilling change in different units and levels, in a family, community, organisation and society at large.

So, let’s look at the similarities between leadership and parenting, the overlapping themes, become more self aware of our skills sets that are currently operating at personal and professional fronts and see if there a scope for further improvement, application and transference of knowledge.

Vision, Goal setting, guidance

Whether you are in a professional set up, leading a team or an organisation or a mother or a father, you need to set the path, clearly articulate the vision, state what is required of the team/child to achieve, set expectations, rules and guidelines. You need to be available to lead and guide and nurture them.

Role Modelling

It is all about role modelling. For instance, if you expect your child to understand the importance of time management, you need to first practice it before you put out orders to them. Similarly if you are building an ethical, transparent, responsible team, you need to own and reflect integrity, transparency and responsibility in your actions. Walk the talk is the crux here. It makes it easy, spontaneous to imitate, embed, learn and grow for the child or the team you work with.

Positive Discipline

Positive Discipline is crucial in building quality service, great organisations and equally essential in supporting a child’s healthy development. In a professional set up, positive discipline helps in setting standards, keeping up to it, and delivering high performance consistently in a sustained manner. In both parenting and leadership positive discipline practiced in an encouraging, consistent manner brings about positive high growth in teams and children.

Trust and Values

Both are secret ingredients that are always used in forging unbreakable bonds and foundations for a great organisation or an individual. Often it is the leader of the team/organisation, parent who cements the team or children in the family with empathy, ethics, code of behaviour and essentials like belief, faith which keeps them going during their the ups and downs of life.

Inspire and Motivate

As parents and leaders, you need to constantly find ways to inspire your team/child with vision, narratives that will enable them to rise, grow and achieve their goals.

Often to motivate one needs to bring out the meaning in tasks that would lead to accomplishments. Leading by revealing a sense of purpose is very pertinent to make all possibilities possible, and all milestones worth achieving. All a bird needs, sometimes, is a push to fly and soar. You need to help them rise and soar high.

Communication Channel

Communication is a key enabler, both for a parent and a leader. Communication needs to be open, firm, assertive and consistent with a humane approach. It needs to be both bottom-up and top -down both ways, depending on the situation and its needs. Open, flowing communication channel helps leaders, teams, organisations, parents and children to cope well at all times, especially during a crisis, to endure, be resilient, and bounce back.

Listening is the most important element of communication. It doesn’t matter which role you are playing, a leader or a parent, listening is very much strategic in building a responsive, empathetic, growing able organisation and in the holistic development of the child.

While building leadership and parenting skills is all of the above and more, like it is connecting the dots, unlearning and learning, revising and recasting, but one needs to reflect and pause here, and always remember that in leadership and parenting both, to err is human, so it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you accept it, learn, grow and move forward.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John C. Maxwell

“The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.” – Benjamin Spock