My last post, Do You Really Know If You Are Impacting, Influencing and Leading Successfully, described the process I have taken to impact, influence and lead at work. I focussed on how I implemented these steps when I moved into a new role as Superintendent of Schools. This was a challenging career transition that I invested a lot of time in reflection, planning for and activating. In this post, I want to share my thoughts around an even more demanding process. And unlike the process described previously this challenge is not a transition. Being a family leader is a life long commitment and responsibility.

Simply put, don't be a leader just at work. Do not absolve yourself from the responsibility to be a leader of your family. These are your loved ones who are in your care, not your co-workers or colleagues.
If you are fortunate enough to be put in this position you are called to step up to lead. Yet, I think many spend more energy reflecting on and planning for how they will lead at work rather than thinking about how they should lead at home.

Leaders at work see the responsibility to lead as something they have to do. It is part of their portfolio of responsibilities. They see leading others successfully as being a way to advance a career or to gain further influence. So leaders at work invest time, energy and effort.

There is nothing wrong with leaders investing in leading others at work. In fact, it is encouraged and needed. It is a problem however, when the same leader who invests so much time at work, neglects that responsibility at home.

So what can you do? If you are a leader who is not investing at home or feels you don’t have what it takes to lead at home here is some guidance:

Know yourself– Like the advice from my last post you have to first spend time getting to know who you really are, what your strengths are, what your areas of growth are, what are your expectations for being a leader at home are and what expectations you have for those you lead at home. You have to know yourself first before you can expect to lead your family.

Know your family –Same as knowing yourself, you need to spend time getting to know your family members, who they really are, what their strengths are, what excites them and what interests them. In order to lead and engage with them you have to know them first.

Demonstrate integrity– Your words and actions have to match. Your family needs to see you as a leader that displays strong character with integrity as a foundation. You need to be seen and heard as a trustworthy leader.

Be there for your family– Be present and engage in the lives of your loved ones by physically, emotionally and spiritually investing in their lives. Attentively listening, discussing and sharing with them signals you care and are interested in what is going on in their lives.

Love – Demonstrate care and compassion when needed and discipline when required. Your family need to know that you love them. Even when corrections have to be made, it is done with love.

Don’t do this by yourself – Start or join a community group where you can share and discuss the successes and challenges of being a family leader. Many of the concerns you have will be similar to those experienced by others. Knowing that you are not alone in dealing with the challenges helps.

Perhaps the most challenging is to prepare and be willing to share your answers to these questions assuming that they came from a family member:

  1. What can I expect from you as our family leader?
  2. What do you believe in as a leader?
  3. How will you as our leader help me to achieve my goals and my potential?
  4. Can I trust my future with you?
  5. How did you prepare yourself to be our family leader?
  6. Will you always be honest with me and if so, how will I know?
  7. Will you have confidence and trust in letting me learn and grow?
  8. What will you do when I “mess up”?

Invest the time and put a plan of action in place to address these suggestions and questions. Don’t put yourself in the position of being seen as an absent or disinterested leader at home.

Your family needs you and your leadership. You don’t want to be known as the leader who divests themselves from such an important role and responsibility.
That is not a legacy most leaders would want to leave.

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