Parenting as a Management Skill … Huh? (part 2)

The parent-child relationship may well be the most profound relationship that exists. So when we want to learn about the relational aspects of organizations guess where the learning will be most profound?

Last week I focused on how the experience of parenting can be an accelerator of our leadership behavior; more specifically: trusting oneself, finding an emotional balance and taking care of oneself. Next to that, we can learn from our parenting experience just by observing our children. Observing our kids and taking note of whatever nature is telling us can be extremely nurturing for parents and managers alike. After all, we and our adult colleagues were children once, so the basic laws of growth, control and human behavior apply.

Last week I attended a seminar on parenting by the Belgian child and juvenile psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens. He underscored that the relationship between a parent and a child is profounder and deeper than any other relationship, even that between spouses. For that same reason, the love, the anger, the fear, the frustration and the learning that occur in that relationship is also bigger than any other experience can provide. And so is the uncertainty.

Adriaenssens grabbed my attention when he stated that we should actually congratulate a four-year old saying ‘no’ for the umpteenth time and that we should applaud the revolting adolescent who is driving us crazy. As he continued:

These are healthy children who are doing their job – they are growing up to become healthy adults.

The point is that we should allow ourselves to look at the behavior of our children and team-members from a different angle. Very soon we will learn that each human being has his/her own and unique temperament and that every individual has cycles of ebb and flow, stress and calm. The sooner we are able to recognize and accept these patterns in ourselves, the better we will be able to make sense of the moodiness and crankiness of our family or team.

Witnessing these patterns as they unfold, rather than trying to control them, and recognizing that we choose our responses to the world will give us more possibilities as parents and managers. This is the rock AND the hard place of parenting: keeping a distance and not taking feedback personal is kind of difficult in the most profound and deepest of all relationships. That’s exactly why parenting is a master class for management: if you can do this with your kids, you will be able to do it in any other relationship you are involved in.