I am not your average leader. My leadership decisions don’t affect the boardroom, but they do the future of the world because I am raising two future leaders. I am a domestic engineer, a home economist, a housewife, a mom. I have found that my leadership at home has taught me lessons that any leader, whether in the board room or the laundry room, can use.
- If it stinks, change it. This philosophy applies to diapers and to decisions. As leaders, sometimes we may “own” an idea so tightly, that even when shown data that the idea is failing, we keep holding on to it. A leader should be able to change. As Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of Consumer Electronics Association and co-author of a book on innovation puts it, “Mistakes are OK—hiding them is not.”
- Time outs are helpful. Sometimes my kids need a time out. A time out helps them refocus and get ready to carry on—with a new attitude. Sometimes I need a break…from my kids! That doesn’t make me a bad mom. In fact, the “time out” makes me a better mom. Good leaders also recognize the value of a time out or as Michael Hyatt refers to it, The Discipline of Rest.
- You need to share. A smart mom knows that arguments in the next room can often be stopped just by calling out, “Share!” A 1991 Mercedes commercial conveyed similar advice. When asked why they gave away a basic safety advance for free, by never enforcing their patent on their energy absorbing car body, the engineer replied, “There are some things in life that are too important not to share.” Good leaders understand the importance of sharing.
- It’s okay to be “mean.” After I took away my daughter’s dessert in punishment for lying, she said, “I am 100 percent sure you are not my real mom.” The assumption, of course, was that a real mom would never be so mean as to take away a child’s dessert. While my daughter couldn’t see past dessert, I was looking at the bigger picture, her integrity. Likewise, when my husband gave pay cuts to his entire company, including himself, during tough economic times he won no popularity contest. However, his hard, but wise decision enabled his company to stay afloat, while many other companies went under. Good leaders sometimes make “mean” decisions, but they are for the best interest of everyone.
- Leaders know how to follow. My kids love to play follow the leader, knowing before the game starts that they take turns being the leader. In my life, I may be Queen of the Kitchen, but my husband is the one bringing home the bacon. I must respect that. Even if you are a CEO, you still have a board, shareholders, or your client to whom you report. Realize that just like in the game, sometimes you lead, and sometimes you follow.
- The future is in our hands. My kids will grow up and leave home one day. My job is to prepare them for that. I won’t always be around to rescue them or give advice. I mentor them now, with the goal that they will know what they should do, even when I’m not around to tell them. A good leader trains his people well, because he knows the importance of raising up new leaders.