What My Kids Taught Me About Leadership
Today is National Sons Day and what better way to celebrate this than to honor the boys (and all children) in our lives. Raising my boys has been a blessing (and often a challenge,) but for all I have tried to teach them, I've probably learned just as much if not more from them in return, regarding life in general, and more specifically, about leading.
Lesson 1 – Children thrive when led by parents who want what's best for them. It's not always convenient or popular, such as limiting snacks or screen time, but when the intention is clear, it builds acceptance and respect. It's every bit as important for adults to understand that leaders are trying to make decisions in the best interest of the group, and not just for themselves, even if the decision isn't what they had hoped for.
Lesson 2 – Encourage people's passions. I may not understand why some things inspire such passions (video games and anime come to mind,) but passions can be the seeds of expertise. My teenager's interest in video games has inspired him to take a programming class, and his favorite anime – Naruto, specifically – has prompted him to ask more questions about my time in Japan, how to translate different words into Japanese or English, and to go to Japanese restaurants to try authentic ramen.
Lesson 3 – Speak with conviction. If you’ve heard a sales pitch or an idea from a kid, especially your kids, you know what I mean. They're fully invested, and are fully committed to their idea. It's clear in their words, voice, and body language, and they are willing to share it with just anybody willing to listen.
Lesson 4 – Don't be afraid to try and fail. Watching a child who is determined to learn to do something is truly inspiring. Shortly before my son turned 5 over the summer, he decided he wanted to take the training wheels off his bicycle, like the big kids. I anticipated days of back-breaking bending over to help hold the bike upright, but he kept swatting my hand away, saying “I can do it myself!” Yes there were a lot of false starts, falls, close calls and a skinned knee, but sure enough he figured it out and was off to the races with the others, beaming with pride.
All of these lessons are reinforced in this week’s podcast episode, with special guest Trish Wellenbach, President and CEO of Please Touch Museum.
As the head of one of the top ten children's museums in the country AND the first female chair of the board of Thomas Jefferson University, Trish reinforced the importance of leading by getting out of people's way, meeting people wherever they are, and taking smart chances by taking jobs that you might not be 100% qualified for – trusting that you can learn the rest, which gives you something exciting to look forward to.
Tune in to listen to the episode here or watch on YouTube here.
Whether you are a parent or not, don't miss this conversation with lots of words of wisdom from the world of children AND adults alike.
And if you have a son, celebrate them today and the life lessons they taught you.