Families are like companies and need active leadership for them to succeed.
Most of us are inclined to see leadership in terms of our careers and not in terms of our families. We develop and grow as leaders at work, participate in leadership programmes, learn key skills that help us succeed at work and apply the knowledge we have gained in the interests of the company.
But, when we get home at night, the last thing we think of is using those same skills for the benefit of our families. Men are particularly guilty of compartmentalising their home and work life and seeing success as that which they leave the home to achieve. I urge men to broaden their view of success to include not only that which they achieve outside the home (at work) but also that which they achieve in the home. So, gentlemen, go out there and give it your best shot. Make things happen at work. When you come home, though, give your family your best shot too.
Here then are three tips to help you be a good leader in your home.
1. Lead your family mindfully
Good leadership programmes are now starting to include mindfulness and I’m a big supporter of this. Simply put, mindfulness involves being completely present wherever you are. If you’re at work, be completely present at work and, when you’re at home, be completely present at home. Don’t be physically present at home but always somewhere else in your thoughts. Your children will notice it and your partner will too. They will get used to it and in turn switch off too. Too late, you will realise what’s happened and try to fix things, but everyone will have developed their own way of dealing with your lack of emotional presence in the home and you will be left standing on the platform long after the train has departed. So be present wherever you are.
2. Listen to your family members
What are leaders taught to do at work? One of the things is listen. So effective leaders do that. They listen to their team’s views. They consider what others have to say. They work hard at listening to their people to keep them engaged.
And people who feel listened to are indeed engaged. They give of their best, they go the extra mile, they’re tremendously loyal to the company and supportive of their leader.
Do you do that at home? Do you work at keeping your family members engaged? Do you listen to their views, thoughts and feelings and make sure they feel a part of the family?
One of the most basic human needs people have is to feel heard. A large majority of the problems we encounter in our companies and country are caused by people feeling that they’re not being heard. When that happens, people become desperate and when their level of desperation rises high enough, it triggers highly destructive behaviour, resulting in a Marikana.
Listening can prevent this. And listening in the home can prevent children growing up to be rebellious teenagers simply because they feel they are not being heard.
3. Lead by example
There is simply no better way to lead than by example. That means you don’t ask your team at work, or your children at home, to, “Do as I say,” but you ask them to, “Do as I do.”
When you set the example, you occupy the moral high ground. That’s one of the reasons why so many leaders and managers refuse to hold people accountable. They know they don’t occupy the moral high ground because they have not set the example.
So, be present when you’re at home, listen to your children and set the example. You will earn the love and respect you deserve and build a happy, successful family.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, and an Age Management and Self-Mastery Coach to senior executives, and the author of best seller What nobody tells a new father.
This article appeared in the June 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.