Leading a family resembles leading a team in the workplace. To lead our “home team”, my wife and I made specific decisions about how we would teach and guide our boys.
For example, instead of creating a “Better House and Gardens” house, when our three boys were young, we converted our formal living room and connecting dining room into an entertainment area for them and their friends.
It included a nice size pool table and a TV area supplied with pre-selected movie videos and video games. We also kept the pantry and refrigerator well stocked for them and their friends.
When weather permitted, they could also go outside in the backyard to our swimming pool and/or play regular basketball. Also, the kids seemed to think my charcoal-grilled hamburgers were the world’s greatest (my secret was fresh meat marinated in smoke sauce).
As you can imagine, our home was a real gathering place for a bunch of good kids. Our boys were always inviting their friends to come over to our home because it was a safe place without parents hovering over their every move.
And that is actually why my wife and I invested our time and resources in this way –so we could get to know who our boys’ friends were and who they chose to hang out with.
Our boys clearly knew the boundary lines of our “House Rules” (e.g., no R-rated movies) but they also knew they had age-appropriate freedoms guided by us within those boundary lines. Their friends, as well, knew our “House Rules” – communicated not from my wife and me but from our boys.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you about all of this. To be clear, I will be the first to share that my wife and I are definitely not perfect parents. We made a lot of mistakes, but we chose to live by those same “House Rules” as well to set an example for our boys. And this story has truths that reach beyond the home and into the workplace.
“We make choices, and our choices make us.”
– Bobby Albert
I’m fully convinced since our boys clearly understood the boundary lines of our “House Rules” and had the freedom to be involved to make decisions and choices between those boundary lines, they reaped several benefits, such as:
- Learning when they made principled and wise decisions there are blessings, success, and growth, but when they made wrong and expedient decisions there were negative consequences.
- Understanding that with their freedoms came responsibilities.
- Adopting the “House Rules” as their own resulted in them enforcing the rules with their friends. They have continued even to this day to live out those “House Rules”.
- Maturing into honorable men who have wonderful wives (who are like daughters to my wife and me), excellent jobs, manage their money well, and are better dads than I was. I’m so proud of them!
“Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.”
– Betsy Brown Braun
All too often, this philosophy plays out backward with well-meaning parents who believe their task is primarily to prepare the path for their children. These parents remove obstacles, smooth out the rough places, and generally make life a painless, trouble-free experience.
What happens on the inside (how the child is maturing) will have far more influence on the child’s future life than the external things that tend to consume the parents’ energy and emotions.
Workplace Relationship and Results
This also applies to the workplace. Most managers, while intelligent and well-meaning, tend to expediently “prepare the path” to drive for results. They “tell” their subordinates the results (the what) they want with little or no input (the how) from their subordinates. These managers don’t realize they could use the 1-2-3 leadership tool and achieve significantly better results.
Few managers realize how a relationship-oriented participative leadership style, like Engage2Lead, would prepare the employees for the twists and turns along the path as they serve customers, suppliers (yes, even suppliers), and each other.
Employees who feel valued are much more willing to go the extra mile when those twists and turns happen—and they always happen.
An employee’s sense of ownership over a product or process translates into…
- Better customer service,
- Better accuracy,
- Better attitude overall, and
- A more positive workplace, even under stress.
Treat an employee like a robot, however, and watch production and satisfaction plummet. Instead of taking ownership and trying to solve problems, employees, feeling overwhelmed and disregarded, will shift blame and responsibilities to others.
Every manager can become a more effective leader of their business as well as their family with some effort, a willingness to change, and acceptance of the participative leadership style, Engage2Lead, using the 1-2-3 leadership tool.
Are you preparing your employees for the path or the path for your employees? What steps can you take today to start earning the enthusiasm, initiative, and devotion of your employees? Please share your thoughts <here> and share this blog post with your family, co-worker, or friend.
Learn more about my new book, Principled Profits – Outward Success Is an Inside Job.