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Can Parents Be Effective Leaders?

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In today’s Financial Times, Luke Johnson poses the question, “Can you be a good father if you are running a business?” While this is a relevant question in this day and age, it should bother all of us that we even need to ask this question.

Maybe, just maybe, this is one of the reasons why the culture in the US Secret Service is so dysfunctional. In a report this morning on NPR (National Public Radio), ex-agent Dan Emmett mentioned some of the family events he missed while working long hours, at times going as many as four days without sleep. Do we really want overly tired individuals, who could be distractedly pondering a missed recital or football match, tasked with such an important job?

Whether a leader is a father or mother, there are some sacrifices that don’t have to be made. Take, for instance, two staffing companies, one large, one small. The CEOs of both were tired and ready to be done with their unbalanced cultures. So, both instilled a leadership approach, that I provided to them, to permanently change their cultures. That structure is:

  1. Plan around your family
    All leaders, from the top down, are required to plan their work calendars around family commitments.
  2. Make room on the fly
    Accommodations are made, as they come up, for unforeseen, important family-related events.
  3. Cover and counter
    Leaders look out for one another, covering for planned and last-minute events, countering anything that could interfere with this important family time while also ensuring that the business is run in an effective way.
  4. Repeat 1, 2, and 3
    This process is never treated as a one-time event, instead, being an ongoing way of doing business. In addition, this same methodology is filtered down to staff level roles, as well.

Both companies are having an incredible year. Revenues and profits are high with turnover being at its lowest levels in the histories of both companies.

The skills employed by parents often translate quite well into leadership roles. That is, if those leaders are being mindful of priorities, setting a positive example, and expecting that their direct reports do the same. For parents, this begins with being responsible about the most important aspect of our lives, our children and our families.

Scott WintripCan Parents Be Effective Leaders?

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