My one year old son teaches me about leadership each day. Many of these lessons are so applicable to the workplace, and to the work I do each do as a human resources consultant. Below are the top leadership lessons from my one year old boy, James Power, for how to foster effective leadership at your organization.
1) You must say “No” sometimes to get your people to focus on the right things. James favorite word is “No”. He understands the power of this little word for getting what he wants and needs. Similarly at work, if you say “Yes” to everything people will be confused by what are your organization’s priorities, and where should they focus their energy and time.
2) It is a leaders job to stay sane in despite of complete irrationality. Sometimes at work people act out in ways that are completely childish and frankly inappropriate. They often do this to try to get what they want. Conflict is normally the result. James does this by crying hysterically for his socks to be taken off; and then crying for his socks to be put back on. I used to get exasperated and raise my voice as I did not know what he wanted. He was sending me a very mixed message. In these situations, the leader needs to ask “What is the root cause of this behaviour?”. For James, the root cause was that he was tired and needed to sleep. For your people, when conflict arises, there may be a number of underlying factors. Different communication styles, different agendas, personal issues at home, a lack of confidence, or perhaps burn-out, etc. It is the leader’s job to support their people to develop the skills that help them express their underlying needs, opinions, and ultimately empower their people to resolve their own conflicts. Calm demeanor and emotional intelligence go a long way.
3) Consistent, strong Leadership is REALLY challenging. A leader needs to maintain confidence in their ability to realize their goals AND have fun doing it. A leader operates in a fish bowl. A leader is watched by their people for signals on whether things are going well or not so well. Even when times are tough, a leader needs to put on a brave face, be positive, and signal to their people to keep pushing forward. James knows that having fun, engaging with people, and smiling energizes the people around him…he amazes me that often he intuitively does this in a stressful situation. His tone and laughter go a long ways to encouraging those around him not to take life too seriously, and to keep moving forward. A leader needs to take time to get to know their people and also open up enough so that their people have the chance to get to know them on a personal (albeit professional) level. This builds trust and more open communication. An effective leader can interject fun and laughter into the workday…especially when the team is stressed, and needs some comic relief.