Leadership Lessons from an 8-Year-Old

My daughter is 8-years-old and just started the third grade.  She is a wonderful kid.  She does everything my wife and I ask of her without complaint and she loves to learn.  We are very lucky.  But with the third grade comes the start of being aware of social situations and more awareness of what trends, fashion, friendships, etc..

She comes home with so and so is trying to pull my friend away from me or  I have gotten to be the team leader in the classroom yet.  Things like that.  As an adult, we think these things seem trivial because we are worried about paying the bills, putting food on the table and a roof over our head.  Sometimes it is really hard to take it seriously and not just tell her you worry to much and move on.

If the issue is a big deal to her then as her parents it should be a big deal to us.  We have to listen to her and take it in and make her feel like she can come to us and talk about anything.  We have to teach her in a caring way what might be good to just let go and give her mechanisms to do that and what do deal with.  We have to show her she matters.

This is no different than leading in the workplace.  We have to show our employees they matter.  If they have a problem, no matter how trivial it may seem to us we have to help them deal with the issue in a caring way.  We can’t blow it off and say get over it even though we may want to.  We have to help the employee understand context and and teach them how to handle different situations so they don’t become overwhelmed.

I am still not the best at it, but my daughter keeps me on my toes and gives me a lot of practice and this.  I just hope I have it mastered by the time she is a teenager.

Posted on September 9, 2011, in Leadership, Learning, People, Respect for People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. My wife started giving our daughter advice when she started seeing social pressures from her classmates. Very simple advice really, just play with the boys when your friends don’t play nice.

    Boys don’t seem to start the petty stuff about friends, clothes, etc., until later and we haven’t had a problem since. Plus, she goes to bed on-time as she is usually a little work out when she gets home.

    I just wish that I had some similar advice about dealing with adults at work.

  2. Matt-great illustration of an important principle. Leaders need to be able to help their team resolve issues that are important to the team as well as those important to senior management.

  3. Matt,

    Your statement, “We have to show our employees they matter.” is very true. The principle of Respect for People is a core of Lean. But, this is something that can’t be faked, with our children or in the workplace. We have to sincerely care about those around us. We can stand there and listen, but our actions after the conversation will reveal our true feelings. So, we all need to ask ourselves, “Do I really care about those around me?” Hopefully, for each of us (and them) the answer is yes with regard to our co-workers as well as our children. If no, then the truth will be seen in the long-term effects.

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