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It’s Okay to be the Boss (of your kids!)

 

As you’ve most likely read before in one of my previous blogs, not only am I a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, but I really try to live true to my strengths daily. My #1 strength is Learner, which for me means that I LOVE learning on my own and from others. And, in particular, I love to deepen my knowledge about leadership, wellbeing, and personal and professional development in general.
Today I had the opportunity to learn from a wonderful leader in our community, and a friend, who I have the pleasure of engaging with on a regular basis. Janet Altman, marketing partner at Kaufman Rossin, is a member of The Commonwealth Institute (of Miami) Forum of executive women that I have the pleasure of facilitating each month. She took us through a one-hour version of It’s Okay To Be The Boss, based on the book by Bruce Tulgan. It was enlightening, and practical, and I can’t wait to put some of these great strategies into action. 
 
But, if you’ve been following me for a bit, you know that I love to take what I learn in my professional life and apply it to my personal life; in particular with my children. I am a firm believer that we can instill leadership principals into our children at a young age, and help them to lead conscious, reflective lives. 
 

I’m sharing this with you today for two reasons:

  1. For those of you who are parents and want to give these tips a try, and 
  2. For those of you who also believe, like I do, that we can empower our young people early on to see themselves as leaders and take personal responsibility for their success and wellbeing. 
Whether you’re a parent or not, I guarantee you’ll have many chances to help our awesome young ones out there (our future leaders, by the way!)
 

Here’s what I’m trying out immediately (or trying to do a better job!):

  1. Manage Every Day.
    I believe in teaching my children to be independent as much as possible, but my husband and I are “in charge” of our children. Every day is an opportunity to check in and be in the know. Even a 5- minute check-in shows we care and are “here” to support and help guide. We may even catch things early that will need some intervention.
  2. Talk Like a Performance Coach.
    I am a coach, but sometimes as coaches we don’t tell others what needs to be done, we encourage those conclusions/outcomes by asking great questions. Well, as parents, it’s our job to do both. Sometimes our kids need us to just listen and ask questions, but other times, it truly is necessary for us to show them how things need to happen. We have to be teachers too.
  3. (Manage) One Person at a Time.
    This one made me laugh, because I can hear my son, almost daily, say, “Mom, why are you saying ‘both of you’ when I didn’t do anything wrong?” Well, he’s got a point! Sometimes I have the habit of saying, “Both of you (my 2 kids) need to stop doing X, Y, Z” when I really am only speaking to one of them. Ever done this before? I can see how this could be frustrating to either my son or daughter who perhaps was not doing anything wrong in that instance. Stay away from “both of you” or “all of you”.
  4. Make Accountability a Process Not a Slogan.
    Just a few nights ago (at 10 pm!!) my son needed to print his homework, when he realized that we have no printing paper. He says, “Mom, why don’t you have paper? Now I can’t print my homework!” Well, that didn’t sit too well with me. I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, I know I’m his mom, but I can’t be in charge of everything and remember everyone’s needs!” Feel me?? So, now, I’m realizing I need to be more clear with kids, in general, about those things that they must be responsible for. From this point on, I’m going to expect that my son keep his own stack of paper and advise us of when he’s almost out so we can purchase more. What are you holding your children accountable for?
  5. Do More for Some People and Less for Others.
    Do you feel you need to be fair all the time with your kids? If you buy something for one, then you feel you have to purchase something for another? My daughter recently asked for chores. I was so excited! She wants to earn some cash so she can both save and shop. Of course I complied! The question, however, crossed my mind, “What if my son gets upset that I’m giving my daughter an allowance?” Well, here’s my answer… he’ll get an allowance when he has chores! Pure and simple. Do you agree?
There are more comparisons I can make, based on these general management axioms, but these were the most applicable for me this month. Teaching our kids (or young people in general) some of these lessons will definitely help them once they go off into what we call “the real world!” Knowing that my son is just a few years away from college, these “lessons” become opportunities to model for him how to better understand what he may encounter in college and in work environments, without taking things personally. I see this as uber valuable (for him/them) and easier on this “leader mom” too!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
It’s your life, lead it well.
Monique
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I love it when nature becomes the perfect metaphor for life and leading. My family and I recently took a super fun excursion on a GINORMOUS buggy deep into the Everglades. I have to admit that I was both excited for the adventure, and scared of the “what if’s!” It’s sad to admit that I have not taken much advantage of this beautiful resource in all my 40+ years in Florida.

I was with my children, though, and I kept listening to my inner chatter, which at times was saying something like, “You don’t want your kids to be fearful! Suck it up, smile, and have a blast!” In this moment, my leadership role was as MOM to my kids, preparing them for the Jungle of Life! You know what’s in the jungle…lions, tigers and bears (oh my!)
In this jungle, on this perfect sunny and cool day, we encountered fresh panther and bear tracks (yes, I said fresh!!!) And, as we explored one Cyprus Dome after another, we came across a water moccasin! It got a little hairy at that point, and we realized that we were, in deed, in the presence of danger. We held our breath. We laughed it off. We kept going.

I look back on that day and see all of us without the proper gear (although we tried!), up to our thighs in mucky cold water exploring our South Florida gem, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished and survived as a family. My 16-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter dug deep that day, kept their thoughts positive, and pushed through. And, well, I kept my cool even during those moments where I wanted to grab my kids and run back to the buggy! I pushed myself. In the end, we had a fantastic adventure and created great memories. In fact, our wonderful guide shared that he’d never met a more adventurous family!

On the buggy during our ride back, I couldn’t help but notice how one side of the ‘glades was black, dry, and brittle from brush fires, and the other side was green, lush and vibrant. For me, this signified the yin and the yang in everything, just like my feelings of both excitement and fear. Additionally, it was a great reminder that some things have to die to bear new life.

So what does this have to do with leading? I’d love for you to identify for yourself a personal experience where you could take those learnings from “life” and bring them into your “work life”. I truly enjoy making these parallel comparisons often.

For me, here are a few leadership learnings I took from this journey into the ‘glades:

1. Expect Yin and Yang in Everything!

Even the best of opportunities bring some challenges. Where there is light there also is darkness. Be prepared. There is no better example of this than in nature. As we witnessed…a tree, completely burned, with one small leaf growing out of it! Death, yet signs of new life! I also think about perspectives. Where there is one perspective or opinion, you can bet there will be another! As a leader in all situations, being prepared for this dichotomy can save us a lot of wasted energy.

2. Set the Pace. Be the Example.

Leaders are expected to lead. When we don’t meet those expectations, our tribe loses faith in us. We are nothing without our tribe! My children were definitely looking to my husband and me to model how to think, feel and act during this new adventure for us all. And isn’t that how leadership begins? We learn by and through others. Some leaders are great, and some not so great, but the learning is continuous regardless. Especially when teams and organizations are in challenging, and perhaps risky situations or environments, it really helps to hunker down and follow the leader. Sometimes, that’s the only way to make it through to the end. For us, heading in and out of these high grass and water domes, there was no other way…it was one behind the other!

3. You don’t know what you don’t know!

Although we tried our best to prepare, I’m not sure we knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into! We made a quick run (the day before!) to Target and purchased anything that resembled “jungle gear”. We made some great finds, but we didn’t realize how under-prepared we were until we hit our first dome. That was the negative. The positive is that you better believe we’ll be ready next time. As leaders, if we are able to do the necessary homework and preparations to plan for success, do it! Err on the side of caution. Although we were lucky enough to not encounter a truly sticky situation, we did come really close with that water moccasin! Too close. Sometimes business is unforgiving and you only have one shot to win. I am grateful for our tour guide, and learned a lot from him. As leaders we really don’t know it all and we have to be willing to listen and learn in order to grow.

4. Share and Celebrate.

Don’t we always have war stories to share? No matter what the outcome, it’s so important to focus on what went well and cement those awesome moments in our memories. They really do help us stretch. We all were outside of our comfort zones that day, and stretch we did! We celebrated our adventure with a yummy BBQ lunch, and we still can’t stop talking about it and sharing it with others. At work, these are moments that can really bond a team and provide spaces for vulnerability, which help us all understand that we’re human after all.

I bet you have a similar experience, and I’d love to hear it!

Share and celebrate!

It’s your life. Lead it well.
Monique

 

My review and implementation (at home) of The Leader in Me continues.

by Laughing Squid

Some nice surprises have resulted since beginning our journey to teach our children the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Here are a few:

  • My son organized his desk (see before photo in my last post) on his own with no pushing! This is a quantum leap! (See After photo below).
  • He has begun to accomplish his goal of practicing golf 3-4 times per week.
  • In addition to being the “leader of his room”,  he, on his own, requested to do additional chores around the house, including walking the dog, helping with laundry, dusting his room, and keeping our windows clean. YAY!!
  • My daughter and I sing the kindergarten “Proactive Song” (see my last post), and she just loves it! We’ve invented some other cute songs relating to being proactive as well.
  • You’ll often hear her telling all of us spontaneously, “You’re not being proactive!” She gets it.

Jake's Desk - After

Gotta love it. The best part is that we haven’t even gotten that deep into the Habits. Up until this point, we’ve only covered Habits 1-4 lightly.  However, as the book warns , this process does not happen overnight. In fact, A.B. Combs’ success came about over time. As Stephen Covey tells us,

“A.B. Combs is nearly a decade into the leadership theme, and much of what appears (in these chapters) came about piece by piece, gradually emerging over time.”

It has been interesting, especially, to observe my son over these few weeks. I’m perceiving that he’s feeling a sense of empowerment through the Habits. It seems logical that he would prefer to feel he has the power to choose how to lead (versus being told what to do and why) as well as knowing that we are placing our trust in him to make decisions which are best for him. Either way, he better understands that his actions, regardless, will lead to consequences–positive or negative.

I can see how it would be important to weave the Habits into all that we do so that they simply become a part of us. The children are more inclined to let me speak about the Habits as we are experiencing (in the moment) great ways of using them,  as opposed to sitting down and having a “lesson”.  The language used by the teachers and students as described in the book suggest how they become second nature to them. They say things like, “(this is) The way we do things around here“; “We dwell in possibilities here“; “You did such a marvelous job with your responsibilities“, etc.  When I refer to the Habits and my children give me push back, I simply say, “This is the way we do things around here,” and that’s the end of the conversation. The process is respected. I am also making sure to celebrate their successes.

What’s next? Well, my plans are to continue working in the Habits over time. Because I’ve practiced the Habits myself, I already know that it is important to master the first three, which deal with self-mastery, before moving ahead into the next three, which focus on collaboration. But, mostly, what excites me is the process of unleashing our family’s leadership culture. What A.B. Combs has mastered is to create a unique and deep leadership culture. And, according to The Leader in Me, these are the factors that helped them create this culture:

  • Behaviors (i.e., leadership roles, data notebooks, classroom mission statements, etc.)
  • Language (i.e., “We focus on the positive”; “We are all leaders”; “We honor the greatness in you”.)
  • Artifacts (i.e., murals, posters and artwork expressing the Habits)
  • Traditions/Rituals (i.e., Leadership Day, Celebrate Success Hour, service projects, etc.)
  • Folklore (stories that have arisen since day 1 of implementation and continue to be shared year after year)

I remember attending a Franklin Covey workshop on the 7 Habits, where everyone in the room represented the business community except for three individuals. When it came time for them to introduce themselves they shared how they were a family (mother and two daughters) who had begun practicing the Habits as a family and recently developed their Family Mission Statement. I was in awe. I remember telling myself,

“Now that is one empowered family! I will do that one day.”

Well, that day has arrived.

If I ask myself what our family culture is, I am not sure I have a clear answer. Using the factors listed above, I plan to move us into the direction of establishing clear examples of how we will bring about this 7 Habits culture in an authentic way; in a way that will make us all proud. After all, wouldn’t it be just as important for families to have a strong, effective culture as it is for companies?

by O ox X

In closing, I’ll share with you A.B. Combs’ Mission and Vision for a bit of inspiration:

MISSION

To Develop Leaders One Child at a Time.

VISION

To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy.

We Live by striving to be the best we can be.

We Love by caring for others.

We Learn by working hard in the school and always doing our best.

We Leave a Legacy by sharing our school with others and trying to make a difference in the world.

Have a great week,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.