Education · Family · Leadership

Leadership Lessons From Raising a Two-Year Old

Parenting is truly one of the greatest leadership opportunities that exist in life.  If you can master raising and leading children, adults are easy.  One of the most interesting discoveries that I have made, as a parent, is how much I utilize the skills I have learned and developed through leadership training with my two year old son.  I can honestly say that I use information I have learned from leadership books three times as often as information I have learned from parenting books.  I’m not saying to scrap the parenting books.  I’m saying that leadership principles are leadership principles regardless if you’re leading a two year old or a 52 year old.  Both genres of study are beneficial and valuable, each in their own way.

Lesson 1:  Understanding the Personalities/Temperaments Is Critical

My son is a Melancholy/Choleric.  He is doubly task oriented.  He has a specific way he wants things done, and he wants them done his way.  Now imagine the constant conflict this could create if I didn’t understand how he has been naturally wired by God.  He would be labeled “a strong-willed child”, or “a difficult child”.  What a blessing it has been to my wife and me to understand his temperament, through leadership training, to empower us with the tools to understand him and communicate more effectively with him.  Understanding leads to grace.

Now how do you apply this in a business or any other adult environment?

First, you need to read Personality Plus.  Studying the personalities is the only way that what I’m teaching here will make any sense.

Second, you need to understand your own personality.  You need to know why you do, think, and say the things that you do.  If you don’t understand why you are the way you are, you will never be able to understand why others are the way they are.  Understanding your temperament, and the other temperaments, empowers you to more effectively communicate with people.

Third, understanding the temperaments will help you to give others grace.  It allows you to stop assigning motives to the actions of others, and helps you realize that they just think and see the world different than you do.  It’s okay.  If we all thought like you, we’d all have the same blind spots.  The purpose of studying the temperaments isn’t so that you can label people.  It’s so you can better understand the strengths of others so you can work more effectively together.

Lesson 2:  Don’t Expect People to Know Everything That You Know

It would be ridiculous for me to expect my son to think like me and make decisions like me.  He’s two, I’m 39.  I’ve had a few more experiences than he has.  I’ve read a few more books that he has.    Do you know, or have you ever seen, parents who treat their children like they’re two or three times older than they are?  My heart breaks for those children.  Those parents are just displaying their own lack of leadership and maturity.  A two year old is going to act like a two year old, you can’t hold him to the same standards that you have for a twelve year old or an 18 year old.

Your people don’t know everything that you know, that’s why they work for you.  If your people knew everything that you know, or think like you think, they wouldn’t be working for you.  They would be off building their own business and building their dreams instead of yours.  As the leader, your job is to teach them the proper thinking around what their responsibilities are.  Someone who has been in your industry for five years isn’t going to know as much as you, who has been in your industry for much longer.

So the bottom line is:  don’t expect people to magically know what you know, or think like you think if they have much less experience than you have.

Lesson 3:  Provide a Fertile Environment and Watch the Growth

My son has very limited access to T.V.  He gets to watch a movie at night before bedtime, and we are very selective in what we let him watch.  His favorite activities are playing with his cars and trains, reading books, painting, playing with play dough, and playing outside.  As a result he is way ahead of his age group in knowing the alphabet, counting, knowing animals, knowing construction equipment, and knowing about fire trucks and ambulances.

Electronics are not conducive to a fertile learning environment, for children or adults.  If we let Andrew watch hours of T.V., play on the computer, or play video games he would not be ahead of most other kids in his age group.

How does this apply to your leadership?

First, you need to create a fertile learning environment for yourself.  You need to be plugged in to a self-directed education program of some sort.  If you’re not learning and growing every day, you can’t help anybody else.

Second, develop a program where you, and all of your people read the same book.  Then on a certain day you all get together, or break up into small groups depending on how many people you’re working with, and discuss what you read.  Don’t carry the discussion.  Ask questions and let your people talk.  This is how you develop a learning culture and a leadership culture.

Third, encourage people to come up with ideas on how to improve the company.  Really listen to them.  Utilize all the great minds that you are surrounded by.  Some of the most impactful ideas that significantly improve your company will often come from the most unlikely places.  But you’ll never get those ideas if you’re not listening, or creating a fertile learning environment.

I hope these three lessons will help you in your own leadership journey.  I know they have already made a big difference in mine.

God bless
Jason Fredrick

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