Friday, September 13, 2013
My Leadership Experts Are Named “Mom” and “Dad”
By Clare Dame, Director of Enrollment Management for Randolph-Macon Academy
I never set out in life to be a leader, but I have been fortunate to lead groups of people both in the workplace and in volunteer organizations. Those are not, however, the most demanding or rewarding leadership experiences I’ve had. That lifelong leadership opportunity is the one I have as the mother of four daughters. How was I prepared to handle that call to leadership? By learning from the most skilled of leadership trainers: my own parents!
My parents lived their lives based on their personal values. While many people give lip-service to what it is to be a leader, my parents acted according to their values. They were kind, honorable, compassionate, and intellectually curious; modeling those qualities in their daily lives. We learned what was expected of us at home and in the world by observing our parents. Parents are the primary leaders in most people’s lives. Generally, the skills that are necessary for good parenting are the same skills necessary to be an effective leader.
One of the most valuable leadership skills I learned from my parents is listening. Adopting good listening skills is no easy feat in a house of five children! Despite this fact, my parents listened to each of us and taught us how to listen to others. Being able to really listen to others not only promotes a more productive work or living environment, it also allows for new ideas to evolve.
A guidance counselor at heart, I have high expectations for the students I mentor, as well as the employees I manage. This is likely a result of having been held to those same standards by my parents. My parents set the bar high for my siblings and me; expecting us to reach our potential, and always encouraging us to push ourselves a little further. Having high expectations placed on us gave us all a drive to reach higher and achieve more. We were always learning and were taught to respectfully question the world around us.
In giving advice to those who lead, I suggest that you assess the strengths of those you manage and inspire them to reach for their next level of success. Additionally, continue to learn always, and encourage your team members to do the same. Life is not stagnant and neither is leading others.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams