Want to make the most of your time as a parent?
Think Like a Leader.
There are thousands of theories and definitions on the topic of leadership. Moreover, as a leadership development professional, I have met with many CEOs and anecdotally heard thousands more. Yes, without a doubt, each and every successful leader has their own unique ingredients for success. Despite this uniqueness, there are key principles to effective leadership that no great leader can dismiss. The same applies to parenthood. Why? Because when you become a parent, you become a leader!
Laundry. Cleaning. Grocery Shopping. Daycare. Gym. School. “Child and me” time. “Me” time. Spouse Time. Family time. Bills. Work. Sleep. Date nights. Play dates. Soccer. Swimming. Birthday parties. More bills. The list goes on and on…parenting requires a lot of time management!
Time management is critical to successful parenting. But can parents just rely on their time management skills to raise their children and “hope” to maximize life’s experiences? No!
Think about it, while management and leadership share commonalities, their functions differ. Managing is about efficiency. Leading is about effectiveness. Managing is about how. Leading is about what and why.
This is why parents must think like leaders! By applying leadership principles to your parenting experience, you can improve your effectiveness, recognize good timing and make the most of the circumstances time presents you. The result? An easier life and more fulfilling parenting experience.
Take time to “Think”
Taking time to “think” is an important principle for any successful leader. This is essential so an organization stays aligned with its mission, doesn’t lose focus or spend time putting out fires rather than seizing opportunities, fulfilling strategic aspirations, understanding why they do things the way they do and knowing what they do great. Applying the power of this leadership principle to parenthood is no different. Taking time to think, assess and develop a strategy for your parenthood experience is essential. Think about your values, priorities, what kind of parent you want to be, how to be the best parent you can be, how you want to spend your time with your children, your parenting style, communication styles, reflect on how you listen, how and what you want to teach your children, how you want to develop their values, confidence, talents and abilities. Think about what you do well, your constraints. Take time to think!
Develop a Clear Powerful Vision
Leaders need to know where they’re going. They achieve this by developing a clear vision. What does your parenthood experience look like? Whatever it is, put in writing! I don’t care if you write it, type it, create a storyboard, or an inspiration board. However you document it, write it down so you know your 5 W’s (who, what, where, when and why) and imprint it in your mind.
Articulate your vision
A great leader has stellar communication skills. They listen, and are honest and straight-forward. But what makes a great leader alluring is how they take their vision and bring it to life in a way that inspires others. How they inspire others to see where they are going and their ability to help others see themselves in that vision and how they can contribute to that vision. Once you develop a vision, parents must express that vision clearly, so the family understands what you are envisioning, expecting, and asking of them. Be explicit. Once aware of your vision, I recommend having the family help identify the roles you want them to take and the way to get there. This can be done through a project that incorporates the creativity of the entire family, and can include extended family and friends.
Lead the Way
Probably the most daunting aspect of leadership is knowing you not only play an important role in the organization’s success, but that you’re also responsible for the organization’s failures. The best leaders are those who do not try to control everything, but instead support and encourage the growth of others by identifying and nurturing the unique talents within each person. They demonstrate their vision and know how to motivate employees. This is why leadership must be a behavior, an action! Parents must do the same. By consistently doing what moves your family towards your vision, you set the bar and teach children your expectations. Key steps include setting measureable goals, expectations, and the pace. In addition, teaching your kids what they need to know to help you create and obtain your vision allows you to discover their talents and potential and nurture it. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words.” So go lead!
Be open, Be flexible
It’s easy to get comfortable doing things in a certain manner, especially when you achieve success in that manner. But to stay ahead of the curve, a leader must be open minded while achieving targeted outcomes. Why? Because focusing solely on outcomes restricts your thinking and your malleability as a leader, and as a parent. Parenting is ever-evolving. So when things change, as I guarantee they will, it’s best to be flexible. Think, develop and follow your parenting vision, but instead of fixating on specific outcomes, set baseline goals, achieved goals and ideal goals. This way, you don’t pressure yourself or your family about particular outcomes or goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
MaryBeth “Beth” Gonzales is a single mom, human rights advocate, and writer. She loves to bring education, leadership development and philanthropy together to address serious and complex societal problems. She is also a co-host on the new online talkshow Words, Wine & Women which is dedicated to the empowerment and education of women and supporters of gender equity.
Beth spent years in DC, Philadelphia and New York working in higher education, corporate law, government and nonprofits where she worked on various policy issues, leadership development and directly with homeless families, domestic violence survivors, federal offenders, veterans, immigrants, substance abuse, and mental health clients. She holds a BA from Howard University, a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management & Policy from New York University. Follow her on Instagram @BGjumpatthesun and Twitter @BGjumpatthesun