Leadership in business. Leadership in your family. It’s the same stuff. I didn’t realise at first, how helpful the skills you develop as a parent are to your business and vice versa.
Take my daughter. When I would pick her up from school and ask her what she had done that day at school, she would invariably answer ‘oh, nothing’. Sometimes I would joke – ‘I might take you out of that school, as they seem to do nothing all the time’. But mostly I would just let her be quiet on the way home.
She is like me – when I have had a busy day I just need time in peace and quiet, to process it all before I can switch into ‘home’ mode.
My son on the other hand, when asked how his day at school has been will still, and always has, give me a blow by blow breakdown of the whole day starting with the subject of the Assembly. He needed the space to process it all by talking it out – and apart from a gentle nudge to keep going, he didn’t really want or need a reply.
What Both Children Needed From Me Was Emotional Rest.
I was reading a blog earlier this week, apologies, I forgot the source, but it talked about ‘emotional rest’. And how kids need that, and what it is. I would argue that all human beings need it, and kids perhaps more so.
You see school – or work – is a place full of the opposite of ‘emotional rest’. When we are at work, we have to perform, we have to juggle many priorities and deal with many kinds of people all wanting something from us. We are constantly ‘on show’ and have to be ‘professional’.
At school kids have to also juggle many pressures. They are ‘on show’ the whole time and have to perform – for teachers, for their peers. They have to absorb masses of information. They may have to dodge or handle difficult situations – bullies, lessons they struggle with, poor teachers. And they are expected to act like mini-adults and suppress their emotions and demonstrate a level of maturity they may not (almost certainly DO not) have.
No wonder there are meltdowns at times. And that’s just me, not the kids! But seriously – it’s tough for kids, and it doesn’t end when they get home anymore – because at home there is social media to worry about. Luckily my boy who is 15 – has no interest in having a Facebook account, he talks to his mates on the Xbox and has friends round to play music. I’m not being complacent – just grateful, whilst knowing that can all change anytime!
But regardless of how well or not kids seem to cope at school, they need emotional rest, and so do the people you manage.
So – how can you provide Emotional Rest as a parent or a Leader in business?
Anything that causes separation between you and your child or you and your employee needs to go. And what I mean by this in parenting terms – is stuff like “go to your room and don’t come out until you can behave”. I have been guilty of this, but it shows a lack of parenting skills I fear, and also it tells the child – “I don’t want you unless you are good”. Children aren’t always capable of controlling their emotions and that’s actually when they need love the most. They need to know your love is constant and doesn’t go away when they don’t behave exactly as you would like.
In terms of business – when someone is NOT performing, that is exactly the time they need our support the most. Once we understand why they are behaving as they are – low attendance, poor punctuality, unacceptable results – we can then offer the right support. They need to know we have their backs and we believe in them – even if they don’t believe in themselves. Only with that kind of leadership can you turn the situation around. Otherwise, you’re on a downhill slope to disciplinary, and resignations or dismissals.
Another way to give emotional rest is to give more than they ask for.
And here I mean focused attention.
When my boy comes homes form school, as long as I am not on the phone, I go ask him how his day was, and then listen to his monologue! I hug him and kiss him and tell him I am proud of him and I love him. I am sure you do the same. I didn’t do that with my daughter. I was too busy running my business and my Mother became that person, 90% of the time. My daughter tells me I am a great Mum, so I choose to believe her, whilst wishing things had been different then.
You see, what I know to be true is that when kids have to vie for our attention or compete with other things, they do not feel significant in our lives. Which leads to all kinds of trouble.
And equally in business – what is not paid attention to goes it own way, which is not normally the way you want it to! Whereas, if you take the time to notice and tell your staff what you appreciate about them, it tends to create more of the same good stuff!.
Finally, we have to be the Leader, in our family or business.
Even though it might seem that the kids want to be in charge, they don’t really. They are looking for you to fill that role. They aren’t ready for it. And they need to observe you in good times and especially in challenging times, and know that you are unrufflable (is that a word?).
If they see that what they do upsets you, makes you angry or distressed, then it seems that you are not capable, and that makes kids emotionally uneasy. They aren’t sure you can cope, and if you can’t cope – what will happen to them? (this is all the stuff going on at a subconscious level).
I know my son looks to me to be in charge. He looks to his Dad to be a mate. That makes me the villain of the piece often – and that is sometimes tough, but I have accepted that role because I know that’s what he needs and I see him growing beautifully into adulthood every day.
2-3 years ago, for reasons I won’t go into here, we had a very angry young man on our hands. And while this sometimes still rears its head, that is becoming less and less. Of course, I am human and not a robot. Sometimes I fail to keep my temper in the face of extreme provocation! But it is rare that I raise my voice and even rarer that I do that because I have lost the plot.
And it is the same at work. We have to lead. NOT micromanage. Lead.
And that means we need to set out the vision, the mission and the values of the business, and spend time training and developing and leading our people to fulfil the operational and tactical aspects of the business. When we are certain about where we are going as a company, the people will follow. When we seem uncertain – especially in tough times, or in ‘negative’ situations, then the staff lose trust and belief in the future we painted. And that’s when they feel emotional uncertainty – and generally, they leave unless we can restore that certainty.
Your people need to believe they are in the right place, doing the right things with the right people and that they matter. They are significant, they are secure and they are trusted. If you give them all of that, by being their leader, then you give them the emotional rest they need. Which ultimately gives you the emotional rest that you also need!
If you need a rest – emotional and physical – why not join us at our Get Shit Done Retreat?