I recently attended a baby shower for a young woman expecting her first child. At the event, there was an activity where I was given a card with the heading, “Advice For The New Mother” and there were lines to share your comments. I jotted down a few words of wisdom, most of which fell in the “if I knew then what I know now” category and added some well wishes for the mother-to-be. As I was driving home from the shower, I reflected on the advice I had contributed and realized that the suggestions I had written were also goals that my leadership coaching clients frequently identified during our work together. I began to realize that there were many similarities between raising a child and leading a team.
Both a leader and a parent have a tremendous amount of responsibility for others. While a parent’s responsibility is certainly more encompassing and long-term, a leader is responsible for the professional well-being of their team. They both take great pride in the accomplishments of their “charges” and agonize over their failures. Both a parent and a leader have the potential to impact, good and bad, the next generation and can be instrumental in shaping their future.
The tips I shared with the young mother-to-be can be just as valuable to a young professional and future leader. Here were my suggestions:
We often have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously. Very rarely are the issues we deal with, in parenthood or work, truly a matter of life or death. If you treat every situation as a crisis you won’t have the energy to deal with the true crisis when it arises.
Enjoy the good moments
There will always be good times and difficult times. It is easy to focus on the difficult times, the mistakes we made, the missed opportunities and disregard or minimize the accomplishments or just simply pleasurable moments. Allow yourself to savor these and store them in your memory for when you need a boost or an inspiration.
You are no less a parent or a leader if you don’t do everything yourself. It is better if you choose wisely those tasks on which your personal touch will have the greatest impact and delegate those that will free you up for the really important things. Both your children and your employees will grow to be more independent and capable if you allow them to assume gradually increased responsibility.
Get over the need for constant perfection. Sometimes good enough is good enough
Learn to discern those times when striving for perfection is truly necessary or worthwhile from those times when the added benefit is not worth the extra stress, effort and sacrifice. It’s a long life, hopefully, and you have to learn to pace yourself.
I wish that someone had told me these things when I was raising young children AND managing a team. They would have definitely helped make me a much saner, happier young mother and leader.