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Leading >< Parenting

Aside from the gift of a deeply fulfilling marriage to Lisa, I am grateful for two obsessions that have stayed with me for all or part of the last three decades of my life. Seeking to understand the art of parenting and the art of leadership. It’s my complete bias to call both art because of the deep emotional labor that, I believe, it demands to do either with love and impact. And neither feel, especially when they’re hard, to be scientific.

My dual obsessions have recently revealed something I feel you should consider.

I’ve realized that the parenting choices that have seemed to help Alexandra and Marissa find their way through life reflect what I lean on heavily to guide my leadership clients. Follow me and tell me if you see a discernible difference. I don’t.

Suggestion 1: Be conscious of why you do what you do. Be candid with yourself: how many of the choices you make parenting and/or leading are ones you think about first. Intention (or a lack of it) makes a big difference. Can you find the moment to answer the question: “I’m doing this to what end?”

Suggestion 2: Always remember they’re watching you. An old colleague of mine gave me one piece of advice before our oldest, Alexandra, was born, “They might not seem to be listening to you, but they’re always watching you.”

Suggestion 3: From very early on, lean toward asking questions and away from telling them what they should do or shouldn’t have done. Btw, that means real questions that help them do real thinking rather than just create a break before you start talking again.

Suggestion 4: Pull the band aid fast. A fundamental of my work on Constructive Candor. If something has gone wrong in their actions or in their world, say it. Pull the band aid and stick around to help them with the pain. Done with the right intention it, ironically, is one of the most inspiring, loving things you can do.

Suggestion 5. Go beyond “good job.” Why waste a potentially formative moment with some milquetoast “you’re a good girl” or an ultimately innocuous email saying “Thanks for the help.” Tell them exactly what was helpful to the work or to the household. What better way to increase the chances it will happen again?

As I write this piece, the suggestion list has outgrown this Thoughts container. Leave it here that the right kind of influence can seamlessly travel between work and home and back again. More seamlessness to come…