Why raising our leaders is no different to raising our kids

Why raising our leaders is no different to raising our kids

With our worlds of work and home unceremoniously entwined because of our new normal I can’t help but think how similar the two are. 

On more than one occasion I have wondered if I could put my teenage son on a performance improvement plan, and whether one could actually make their husband’s role redundant, or at the very least outsource it.  Conversely, could I provide the same conditions for those I lead to be open enough to voice their views and opinions without fear of judgement similar to how my children will tell me in no uncertain terms how bad my cooking is. 

Like parenting, leadership is difficult, challenging and rewarding, sometimes all in the first hour of the day.  But if we look closely we can see five core areas of parenting that will help us lead our teams more effectively.


At the foundation of any family is love and so too must this exist at the foundation of teams. Through connection, under­standing and forgiveness, you can build a strong, cohesive team that understands and values each member’s knowledge and skills. It will enable your people to engage in the same types of arguments you have at Christmas time with your family after lunch without fear of damaging relationships. Through finding the similarities we have with each other and learning to appreciate our differences, whether we agree with them or not, we can build trusting, inclusive teams, organisations, communities and societies.


In all good homes, creating an environment for children to grow and thrive is essential in setting them up for success. This is the same for the environment you create for the people you lead. Creating the psychological safety for your people to feel free to express themselves in whatever way they require will help to foster the creativity and innovation your organisation needs to continue to be successful and relevant in its market. As a parent or leader, you also need to set clear expectations and consequences for your people so they understand what work needs to be done and by when, and the consequences if the work is not completed. This creates an environment of accountability and performance.


We want our children to be able to thrive in a world that is increasingly demanding and where stress is at an all-time high. When they are healthy and happy, both physically and mentally, they create the skills and resilience to be able to meet these demands. The same applies to the people who work for you. By supporting your people to create balance and boundaries between work and home, live healthy lives through diet and exercise and have a positive mindset to be able to approach their work and challenges with the resilience needed, you will help your team to manage stress, reduce illness and increase their engagement.


It’s confronting when your child repeats back to you the same words, phrases or slang that you know you use every day. As parents, we are constantly on show, being watched and observed, listened to (even though it often appears otherwise) and teaching our children how to behave. The exact same things happen when we lead people. They watch, observe and take in all of our words, actions, behaviours and values, good and bad. As Stephen Covey says, ‘What you do has far greater impact than what you say’. Making sure you reflect on and understand what you do, make modifications and learn from your mistakes creates the same awareness in your people.


We all have hopes and dreams for our children – usually focusing on them growing up and being successful at what­ever they choose to do, and being happy with their life, partner, job, dreams and aspirations. As a leader, you also want your people to do well, and to thrive, develop, learn and succeed. It’s important to have a vision of the future and a strategy for how to get there, both personally and professionally. Having vision and strategy helps your people to make a link between what they do on a daily basis and the goals of the team and organisation. Understanding the purpose underlying the vision also creates meaning in the work they do and a connection with each other, their team and the organisation.

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