Monday, March 12, 2012

Parenting & Being a Leader

I am not a parent.  I don't know what it is like to hear the word "Mom".  I don't know what it is like to be needed 24/7.  I don't know what it is like to go from being proud of your child to being humiliated.  I haven't faced seeing the reflections of you in them and their mannerisms, many of which will haunt you.  I haven't experienced these things...

But.  I am starting to understand parenting more.  I am getting more of a clue about what it takes to be a leader.  What is required to achieve the results you want.  I am learning a lot about me.  You ask, How when you are not a parent?

In my profession, I am the leader, director and manager of my employees.  It is up to me to guide them and make sure the job gets done.  It is up to me to educate and provide the training on the skills to perform the tasks.  The job requires them to follow through with my instructions.  I teach my clients employees skills, provide resources, information and understanding on various subjects related to the industry and their job duties.  This is what I do, it is my job, it requires skills and challenges in many ways related to parenting.

In my quest to be a professional and excellent at what I do, I have to evaluate the steps to this process.  It is not because I am a bad leader, I just want to be better.  If my employees are not getting it, it shows in their production.  If mistakes are continued to be made after the learning period, it means concepts were not grasped.  If the job is not done on schedule, it means they may not be being disciplined to achieve the deadline.  If they promise to be available to work and then are not, it means they have put other priorities above work and their yes is not yes.  If they don't ask questions to get clarification, they are not trying to learn.  If I see them just staring at me like a zombie, I know that they have not connected and are not engaged.  Few things are more excruciating than to be spent at trying to help people learn and them not be learning.  These types of situations bother me, deep in my soul.  I want them to get it.  I want them to not make mistakes.  I want them to be disciplined because of the results it produces.  I want to give them more work when they can prove they do the work they were given well.  I want them to ask questions because there are no dumb questions when you don't know.  I want them to have a vision and be a team player.  

When you face these moments, if you are anything like me, you spend time reflecting on how to be better.  You question your ability.  You question your method.  You question their choices.  You evaluate their skills.  You evaluate your communication style.  You may be frustrated and unsure what to change.  Good leaders however will evaluate the processes and seek support from those who can give us guidance.  Good leaders will realize that some things don't always work and new methods will have to be implemented.  Good leaders understand that you have to try to get into the employees mind.  Good leaders realize sometimes things take longer than you originally planned.  Good leaders know they have to be firm, fair and consistent.  Good leaders know that the team is watching you and you have to stay strong.

That said, given all the support in the world, even the best leader can’t force his/her employees or clients employees want to learn, or actually learn.  They make choices about what they will and won’t learn, what they will or won't do off the clock (that affects their job), what they will or won't ask, what they will or won't absorb, what they will or won't choose; we all do.  Many of these choices affect our performance and the outcome because of these choices.  The leader is not the one responsible for the results.  You are.

The leaders that have been a true source of strength, guidance and inspiration to me are the ones that asked the tough questions, the ones that kept my feet to the fire, the ones that encouraged me to think for myself, the ones that inspired me to be different, not follow with the mainstream just because everyone was doing it, the ones that encouraged me to take the high road no matter how I was treated, the ones that strive for excellence because it matters, the ones that weren't afraid of confrontation because that is apart of life, the ones that know your weak points and try to help you through them, the ones that encouraged you to say No - I don't understand or No - I can't do that, the ones that will never lie no matter what is asked of them, the ones that respected you for who you are, the ones that welcomed discussion and push you to your limits.  These are lessons you learn from good leaders and you never know when those tips will come back to you in your role as a leader...even if you are not a parent and don't have those hands-on parenting skills.

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