We Aren’t Just Raising Kids

I’m definitely not a parenting expert. I haven’t read a lot of books on parenting, and I don’t intentionally speak or write on the subject. But I am a parent, and I’m both honored and respectful of this enormous responsibility.

In my occupation, I get to meet and work with some amazing people. These people lead at all levels within their organizations, and their organizations are in a variety of different of industries.

Because everyone is so unique in his or her style of leadership, I often wonder about the type of environment they were exposed to while growing up. I think our home life is one very important factor that shapes our outlook on leadership and affects our approach to leadership as adults.

This thought prompted me to send an e-mail to my team earlier in the week pointing out that as parents, we aren’t just raising children; we’re raising leaders. So what are our children learning from their surroundings?

I’ve observed that the most successful leaders are individuals who have a healthy balance between competent skill sets (head) and social or relational skill sets (heart). These skill sets are learned through our life, but we develop many of them as we’re growing up.

Compassion and a love for people are certainly two of the most desirable characteristics in a leader. As a parent, have you ever considered how you show your children compassion and love? Do they see it in you? Do they receive it from you?

When your children grow up to lead others, they will need to have the ability and the desire to love and serve others. Very few individuals learn this on the job because there are not many bosses who can teach the heart side of leading to someone who protects their heart.

On the other hand, how are you parenting for competence? Are you grooming your kids to think? Are you exposing them to experiences that stimulate their mind? How do your kids see you behave about work? Do you complain about it every day, or do you show your excitement about making an impact?

While love and compassion are certainly necessary to be a great leader, they can’t stand alone! Leaders must be competent and capable to be excellent at their trade. This unique combination of the head and the heart are crucial for being a successful leader. Too much or too little of either leaves us short of experiencing true fulfillment and impact. It’s true for us today, and it’s true of the leaders we’re raising for tomorrow.

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  • Anonymous says:

    Just had a brief conversation with my 12 year old about compassion. The situation dealt with a writing homework assignment. Instead of giving my opinion or stating what I felt the paper lacked, I kept asking if he had met the assignment requirements and done his best work. This frustrated him as I was not telling him if he was done, nor was I telling him if it was good. His view point: I was NOT being helpful. My view point: I already have a piece of paper stating I have passed 7th grade and that means I no longer do 7th grade homework. In the end, reluctantly, he agreed that I was showing more love and help by “teaching him how to do assignments on his own” rather than “forcing him to take me to college with him in order to reach his dreams”. I think one of the hardest things a parent does is empower and pray that they dont fall too hard or too often. I think that is teaching leadership, for I would love a boss that would empower and challenge me! The up side, he worked harder on his paper. The down side, I guess I’m not going to go through rush!

    • Linda Sasser says:

      Great story, thanks for sharing! It is hard not to jump in and fix or save our children when they are in need. Sorry you’ll miss rush! Ha-ha!

  • I would love to see us drop the term “kids” and use only “children” to refer to, well, children. When I was a pediatric intern, if a medical student or member of the house staff used the term “kid” when presenting to the head of pediatrics at O.U., they were asked to define the term. After the presenter stumbled around trying to define what sort of person was a “kid,” the chief would interrupt and say, “A kid is a young goat.” If we replace the term “kid” with the term “child,” I think we are showing respect to the child as someone who is smarter than we think, and has immeasurable potential as a human being; someone we really do believe can be a leader.

    • Linda Sasser says:

      Thanks Larry, you bring up a good point. Isn’t it funny how certain words, over time, carry a slang meaning. When adults act silly we say don’t be childish. Yet, one thing I feel we miss in adult leadership is the fun of togetherness. I wish we could bring out the “kid” in others more often. Of course I’m not suggesting we act like goats! ha-ha.

      Thanks for your comments! Love our insight.