In the last few years, in the business world, we are increasingly talking about the balance of family and professional life. We talk about the need for “soft skills” (social and emotional intelligence and communication skills) that make the difference between a good and a top leader, about how our workplace culture should be more humane, empathetic and authentic.
And then when we talk about career and parenting, we often perceive them as two diametrically opposed concepts. But separating them is completely pointless. When we go to work do we forget that we are parents? Or the next morning, when we head to the office, how much of what we learned from the family, about empathy, patience we leave at home?
An important advantage of parents in a professional environment, which we often neglect, is just how much raising children can positively affect the development of these “soft” skills and how it can help us create better relationships with colleagues and better manage people.
Contrary to popular belief, parenting enriches your performance and introduces you to skills you didn’t even know you had. Check out these three skills you gain as a parent that make you a better leader:
Adaptation to change. Children, especially in the first few years, develop and change so quickly that we are not even aware of it. The first word, the first steps, the first friends, the first problems – all this requires a great ability to adapt from the parents. The moment you think you’re used to a new routine, and when things seem to be going “like clockwork,” the situation changes quickly. There is a new turning point in your child’s development and suddenly you are asked to respond to a situation you have never encountered.
This routine dealing with changing circumstances makes us better at creating our own “dynamic possibilities”.
Raising children makes us more adaptable – we get used to dealing with change while at the same time learning from them. Children teach us to accept this lack of stability and become more prepared for change and embrace the daily challenges that make us “in the long run” better parents and leaders. In this process, parenting allows us to self-reflect and adapt in step with children, but also to learn from our own mistakes. After all, we use the same skills in the work environment.
Respect for psychological security as a fundamental human need. How often do you think about the mental and physical health of your colleagues and employees? If you are like most people, not so often. On the other hand, as a parent, how often do you think about your child’s safety? If you are like most people, every day.
As parents, we strive to create for our children an atmosphere of development and an environment where they can learn and grow without hindrance, face challenges to explore, ask questions and openly share their own fears and desires.
The better we manage to create a positive family environment, the stronger our relationship with children will be. In the same way, in the workplace we face the biggest challenge of management – relationship management.
The more open and clear the work environment is, the better the dynamics of the team itself are. The better we can create open, caring and non-judgmental communication with colleagues, the stronger the relationships we build. As we strive to make our children more resilient and capable of finding our own solutions, we do the same with our team members. This means creating a workplace culture that nurtures psychological security and open communication where employees want to share their ideas, needs and concerns.
Rethinking and continuous growth. Being a parent is one of the most demanding jobs – a job that lasts 24 hours 7 days a week – but it is often our most deserving role. It challenges and motivates us. Parenting forces us not only to constantly re-examine, but also to learn from our own mistakes, just like leadership. Authentic parenting as well as authentic leadership requires us to be honest and consistent with our values, open to criticism and feedback, and ready to try new approaches because that is the only way to truly grow, as professionals and as people.
In order for the relationship between professional and family life to be positive and stimulating, it is important to recognize the values that our children teach us every day, to become better leaders, and on the other hand to apply the skills learned at work in parenting.
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