It has been an eternity since my last post. The reason? The birth of a beautiful boy that has enriched my life, and caused me to transition from a capable man to a complete novice navigating the endless information and opinion (even when not asked!) about being a parent.
So it seems fitting to reboot the blog with some parenting lessons I have learned. Not about parenting specifically (we all just need to find our own way and make that work) but how good parenting also equips us for good performance. The skills are directly transferrable.
1. Manage multiple priorities
Most parents can cook dinner, nurse a baby and help their older kids with homework. Being able to manage multiple priorities is essential within the current climate of connection, collaboration and competition. Because the bottom line is we are constantly busy. Managers find this hard.
Leaders on the other hand learn to manage multiple priorities knowing it comes with the territory of having capability that is valued. You are going to be in demand. So find some structures that help manage your time, or make you task efficient, to maximise your ability to get things done.
- Master your Monday to start the week strongly
- Find a task management technique that works for you
- Learn the art of saying no and leave your yes for the stuff that matters
2. Leaders leverage people
Parents don't expect toddlers to wash the Christian Dior champagne flutes but may ask them to load the dishwasher to help out at home. Leaders who make results happen find the right balance between stretch and strain to ensure people can make a positive contribution. When people are doing work that matters, they stay motivated and continue to make investments in that work. Doing everything yourself is a sure fire way to stay time per and task fatigued.
- Give people a clear results to achieve
- Be clear on responsibilities so each person knows their role
- Clarify any specific support that may be required to deliver the result
3. Clarify the crisis
Parents don't put a body cast on a skinned knee. Any crisis needs a calm head and high achieving leaders can often see the distinction between a calamity and catastrophe. The former is a chance to learn from failure or maybe even have some good natured fun from the fall out. The latter needs a strong leader who can rally the troops, focus everyone's attention and harness the required effort to help get people or performance back on course.
- Put the incident into the right perspective
- Leaders always listen but don't always action
- Panic uses a lot of energy for very little outcome
4. Choose your battles
Parents may let a preschooler wear gumboots on a sunny day but will draw the line at wearing sandals in the snow. Competing priorities and conflicts should be part of work because it means you are pushing pre-existing boundaries, perceptions or preferences. Leaders who know what they stand for often avoid fighting the battles that erode precious effort, energy and enthusiasm.
- Small minded issues are for small minded people
- Always seek to understand before being understood
- Choose to be hard on the problem but easy on the person
5. Recognise and reward
When they see positive and appropriate behaviour great parents recognise it and take the time to tell their kids. Catching people doing something right is the most underrated tool for advancing performance. Our social psychology of rewarding good work is lagging behind what behavioural science already knows. Results get paved during the times people are receiving high levels praise and positive feedback.
Three easy options:
- Write a personal note to someone to say thank you
- Shout someone lunch who has performed consistently well
- Let someone leave early to miss the peak hour commute for a job well done