Parenting and Leadership

Parenting — one of the hardest things I have ever done, with hardly enough training. (Marriage is the other.)

Now, I had some training. I read all of the parenting books. I attended Lamaze classes. And I would have watched all of the videos and subscribed to the blogs if they would have been available to me back when my children were born.

Instead, I sought advice from my grandparents and other wise, seasoned friends, as well as the best mentors God gave me — my parents. I had a great childhood, with discipline and rewards. I thought my parents were amazing role models to analyze and learn from.

Then, he was born — Jordan, my son. Immediately, he did not follow anything that I learned the past nine months. And he did not come with a user manual. Now what?

Isn’t this just like the workplace? We learn our skills well and get promoted quickly. We are given a little training in the new position, but is it enough?

What do you do when you need to be the leader of other adults? Do the same as when you lead little people: Trust your intuition and depend on your values to lead you.

Mother’s intuition is an interesting gift that women receive the moment we become pregnant. We just know what our children need.

I remember one night, my 2-year-old daughter came into our bedroom with a grimace on her face. I knew right away that she had a urinary tract infection, even though I have never had one. How would I know that? Because I am her mom. I am her leader. I am in tune with her needs.

Parenthood really challenges me to figure out my values and stick to them. Even now that my children are adults, I am not done parenting. I am not done leading. My values — like integrity, accountability and working hard — should not waver when I interact with my kids.

I remember a really difficult parenting decision my husband and I needed to make when my son was in high school. This gifted child was failing trigonometry. Granted, this math class was not a required class. He was taking it because he could. He understood it. But I knew that he wasn’t putting in the effort to succeed at this class. He was not trying hard enough. And he was on the swim team. Should I allow him to attend the state swim meet with his team if he is not working hard at his school work?

We always had preached that you need to be a great student before a great athlete. I was being tested. I don’t remember what grade he received in that class, but I do remember how I felt when we told him no to the state swim meet. Was I doing the right thing? Was I shattering his opportunities? Was I ruining his life? This is bigger than the experience of the swim meet. This is his life habits that I see not developing properly. What my husband and I chose to do that year is what we thought was best for the whole picture, for the whole person.

Whether you are leading little people, adults or both, invest in your team. Get to know them. Pray for them daily. And stand strong on your leadership values and experiences. Trust that your investment in your growth will grow your team. Stand strong today and know that you are developing future leaders.

Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant, a John Maxwell-certified speaker and a trainer and coach from Dubuque.

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