6 leadership communication skills learned from being a parent
As parents, our role is to help our children gain the skills they need to be successful in life, and these can also help us become better communicators as leaders. I want to share some of those insights and skills I’ve learned being a parent and how they can also help you communicate as a leader.
My daughter Leena is a competitive figure skater and I’m often teaching her that failure is part of growth. When she doesn’t win a competition, it’s not failure, it’s just part of her growth and learning.
Most leaders I coach believe that failure is bad, but what I’ve learned from the most successful leaders is that growth comes through repeated failures. There’s no shortcut and no quick fix. The most valuable things in life always mean hard failures along the way.
Being firm but fair
As a parent you’re constantly swinging from being loving to your kids, and also being strict and drawing boundaries when they need it.
The most respected leaders I know are those who reward success and discipline failure. When you treat employees (and your children) in this way they feel respected, cared for, and they develop trust in you. It’s not about playing games or one-upmanship, it’s all working collectively to achieve a common goal.
Being clear about what you want
Don’t you just love it when your child asks you to explain a word that they haven’t heard before. The other day, Leena asked me what ‘empathy’ meant.
Of course, I knew… but explaining it wasn’t easy, so I gave examples.
I truly believe this works for leaders too. Be super clear about explaining things to you team so that they see your vision and know exactly what’s expected of them.
Leena loves to bake with me, but sometimes it can get messy if I don’t give her clear tasks. It’s so easy for me to do it all myself – then I know I won’t make a mess, but then she won’t feel like she’s part of the process.
Delegation can be hard as a leader, but harder for your team if you’re always controlling projects and not allowing your team members to take the lead so that they grow too.
As Leena is getting older and increasingly more independent, she has her own way of doing things. It’s great seeing her make her own decisions, but these aren’t always what I would choose… especially when she decides to change her clothes as we’re about to walk out of the door (and we’re late!).
Negotiation has become a parenting skill just as much as it is a business skill in my house. Don’t always expect things to land your way all the time as a leader. They often won’t. Learn to negotiate and meet halfway to satisfy others while advancing your own goals.
There are certain stages of your child’s development where you have to trust them, like learning to trust that she’s playing online responsibly, crossing the road by herself and being mindful of cars. As a parent, this is one of the hardest things because it’s about slowly letting go.
As a leader, you need to let your team walk alone too; to grow, to fail, and get back up again stronger and more resilient. Who will be the future leaders in your organization if you don’t do that?
While parenting your children and leading an organization are two entirely different things that require different types of communication style, I am constantly reminded that we can draw similarities between the two and learn how to become better parents and leaders by honing both skills.