Does parenting improve your leadership/management skills?

A few weeks ago,  on my way to the .NET Developer Days conference, I had a thought that I must be getting old. That’s because the only book I took with myself was about parenting 🙂

Before, usually, it was something really technical that I don’t have time for and somehow I plan to catch up on the train or in the hotel.

I had an interesting conclusion for the first time in my life, that actually putting the hard work to become a better parent, all the lessons learned through the period of raising kids are pretty much in line with what a good manager and leader should learn.

Let’s look at some of the things that a good manager should share with a good father, or mother.

Patience

There’s literally no way to be a good parent when raising the kids, without being patient. And if one is not, in the beginning, either he becomes patient, or might have psychological problems over time 🙂 Kids are doing a lot of stuff that an adult never understands and they rarely listen to your advice right away.

Now let’s think about a manager. On the way to an expert, one does have to follow the long path of trials and errors. Managers not being patient enough will probably quite quickly give up or explode, demotivating and jeopardizing the will of reaching the goal by the team.

It is highly important to stay patient and encourage the employees on the road to improvement and mastering the skills.

Nobody’s born perfect, it’s just a hard work and patience.

Believing in people

Have you ever seen a parent saying “Do not touch it, you’re too young to do it”, “Leave this to me, it’s not for kids”? Probably yes, quite often in the situations that actually don’t require to be an adult, examples I could bring here are things like cleaning the house, helping in the kitchen, or any kind of daily stuff you’re busy with during the day.

It’s extremely important to allow kids to do things they never did before, even if it might bring some losses. There are limits here of course, but if you don’t let them try, they will never learn.

Besides, they build something that is among the most important things in our lives: self-confidence. They will know they can do anything they dream about, because even if they sometimes fail – if they don’t give up, they will succeed.

Sounds similar to delegating work? That’s one of the most difficult topics for managers (especially during early steps). They think they are the best to do the things. That other people are just not good enough, not responsible enough. They will do it better alone!

But at the end of the day, if you’re doing everything alone, your team doesn’t have anything to do. How many things can you do by yourself during the day? At some point, you have to delegate things, the sooner you learn it, the better. And if you delegate, you should keep the faith in your people. They will fail, some of them more often, some of them less, but they will improve with every failure and keep on improving if they only feel you believe in them.

Otherwise, they give up and you’re alone to accomplish the mission, which is purely a lose-lose situation.

Protection

This one should be very clear if it goes about children. You should protect them from the outside world as much as possible, but not more than needed. Believe in them, but also give them the opportunity to grow, to be challenged and improved.

But you should always protect them from the adult’s bad-side of the world, crime, aggression and many things that they don’t need to deal with and that might overwhelm them. You have to be their shelter.

At work, I used to say that manager’s role is to remove obstacles his team may find on their way to delivering results. Bad work environment, corporate procedures, shouting clients,  time pressure, etc. Everything, of course, should be a conscious choice, sometimes a bit of a pressure is healthy and motivating.

So, of course, encourage people and delegate responsibility, but keep protecting them from the things that don’t belong to them and remove obstacles to pave them the way to accomplish the mission’s objectives.

Empathy

When raising the kids, one thing that is quite obvious, and which most of the people get naturally due to the unlimited love they share with their kids, is that you should not judge your kids, but rather try to understand them. You know they are your kids and nothing will change it (normally :)) so instead of judging and punishing, you have to try to understand why they do what they do.

Very often (or most of the times I would say) it’s parent’s fault, not the children.

When you put enough effort to understand how much emotional, involved and engaged children are, you might understand, for instance, that your kid is not ignoring you, when you’re asking fifth time about something. It’s just that he’s so much closed in his world and involved in his current task, he simply doesn’t even hear you 🙂

When I started my management journey, the first huge thing I noticed is how people are different and how much you don’t notice such things until you become their manager and you have to care about them, become responsible for them.

When you’re a colleague, you always have the option not to care about somebody else’s opinion, but when you’re his manager, if you ignore somebody – be prepared him to leave, or perform badly.

You have to remember that nobody is born perfect (I repeat) and everybody is different. Instead of judging people and finding their faults everywhere, try to put yourself in their position.

Why did he behave like that, what could impact his actions, how could I change it?

Always try to find the good part of each person. I strongly believe that deep inside, everyone is a good person. Just like kids are never born naughty.

Conclusions

There are many other, very important topics that I think those two “professions” have in common (consistency, positivity, transparency etc.) I believe that being a parent teaches you very important things that may help you in being a good manager. I see such similarities in everyday life. It’s a challenge to remember all these things and apply them consistently on a daily basis.

What do you think about such comparison? Drop me a line in the comments.

Advent of Blog

This is my fourth post in the series of Advent of Blog 2017. I will be publishing one post per day as I mentioned in my first post of the series.

Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “Does parenting improve your leadership/management skills?

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