Leadership Starts at Home: Doing to Leading
Updated: Sep 15
How many Parents do you think see themselves as true “Leaders”? Ask a Mom and I’ll bet the answer is even less. Too often, I’m afraid the word “leader” is reserved for the office rather than home; unless it’s a game of “follow the leader”, to keep kids busy. If there is any doubt, let me clear it up for you. If you are a Parent (biological or otherwise), you are a Leader (with a capital L!).
Parents and family figures really shouldn’t cut themselves short. From day one, we provide the framework for how our children will view leadership. From feeding patterns, sleeping schedules and so on, parents are given the opportunity to establish healthy parameters, routines, discipline habits and confidence that will set up youngsters and the family, for success. Each stage of parenthood and childhood has its own set of skills required; it’s like going from a ‘Start-up’ and growing into a ‘Corporation’, regardless of what side you’re on. To do it well, leadership is required. Just as employees would be lost without vision and management, families will be lost if they let the kids run the roost without direction.
As with professional leaders, one of the most difficult transitions for parent leaders is the shift from doing to leading. I’ve heard this advice many times over the years and have tried to take it to heart: Don’t do something that your kids can do themselves. Mothers are often the culprits of doing everything. There are many reasons for this, and I get it. It’s easier, faster and usually done better, if you do a task yourself rather than wrangling, arguing or repeating the work your child does. But you’re not doing yourself or them any favors, if you’re always doing it for them. If your toddler is use to you doing everything for them, don’t be surprised when your teen or young adult is, too.
“One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading.” To Be a Great Leader, You have to Delegate Well, Harvard Business Review
You may consider that doing things for your kids is an act of service or shows your love to them. While that may be true on the surface, let’s remember that our job as parents is really to prepare our children for adulthood; a productive and engaging adulthood is an even better goal. It may seem simple enough when you have one child. However, add one, two or five more kids, have your job or volunteering situation change or you may just start feeling a little (or lot) more tired – and doing everything yourself just doesn’t work anymore. Please consider, even if you can do it, should you?
Good leaders move from doing, to teaching, to leading!
In the end, the more you allow your child or others to help you, the more you are actually leading. By delegating chores and work you are preparing your kids for a productive, self-sufficient life that encourages them to develop their own leadership skills. Kids or employees will stand up taller, feel respected and most likely be eager for more responsibility with their newfound confidence and dignity through empowerment.
Another major component to leadership, I believe, is service. Being consistent makes you a trusted leader. Showing compassion makes you approachable. Rolling up your sleeves and pitching in or serving along side your kids or colleagues when needed, makes you relatable. Knowing a leader is willing to do anything that they ask of you is a motivator to the one being led. When you serve others, in whatever capacity, it creates a culture of giving. Giving or serving puts the attention on others, embedding a sense of greater purpose in what you are doing. All of which will develop strong teams, whether in your family or at work.
Also, don’t underestimate how you are leading by example. Helping others and having your kids see it, or better yet having them participate, is one of the best lessons you can give. By serving others and creating a sense of a greater purpose in life, you develop more empathy and an outward perspective that will help reduce selfishness and numerous related pitfalls. We tell our kids all that time that their childhood is “practice” and “experience” for what is to come: how they will get along with roommates, what kind of employee they’ll be, how they will communicate with their spouse, how they will lead their family, etc. Cast a vision for them. Be a good example, they are watching. All. The. Time.
Families that serve together, stay together and thrive!
I tend to view most things through a leadership lens, FoodTidings included. I have always considered FoodTidings much more than just a volunteer coordinating tool. It is a leadership tool. FoodTidings’ Organizers are leaders that are mastering the art of delegation; they identify a need and they address it. Serving others would quickly be overwhelming if you were trying to provide all the support or meals all by yourself. Talk about the work, time and money, oh my! It just wouldn’t happen. More tragically, it would be selfish and rob friends and family the opportunity to contribute and celebrate. Life was meant to be shared. A great leader surrounds themselves with people and resources to reach mutual goals. Tools to help us do that should be embraced; and we hope Food Tidings is a go-to resource for you.
From a new mom, a dear friend fighting cancer, a sweet neighbor who just lost their spouse, a co-worker who broke their foot, a family taking in a couple of foster children, a family who is seeking asylum from their war-torn country to a military family who’s Dad or Mom is being deployed – there are so many opportunities for someone to step up and lead the way, organizing a meal schedule or collecting funds to assist where help is needed most. It just takes someone willing to be a leader. You can do it. You already are. FoodTidings can help.
Author: Crystal Van Dyke, Owner/Operator of FoodTidings.com.