Most might think having a toddler and having the title and responsibilities of CEO have very little in common. I would have never put “parent” and “corporate executive leader” in the same sentence before let alone same line of thinking. But it recently struck me how incredibly similar what I do and how I conduct myself as parent is in kind to that someone who is seeking to lead a team and produce positive results. The end results that I, as a mother am hoping to achieve is that not only shapes my child to becoming a self-actualized independent successful person but it’s the same thing I do as a professional to influence those who seek/need my guidance.
Keep It Simple
Don’t give the people you are leading too many choices. Why? Because giving people too many options creates confusion and causes more work for everyone in the long run. Have you ever asked a two year-old what they wanted for dinner then rambled off a list of 5 different things? You can almost see their little eyes spinning like a Looney Tunes character.
Yes, this is ‘Merica and we want people to have the freedom to choose don’t we? But when you are in charge and tasked to be effective and efficient less is more. So be direct in your instruction or give two options. Hence the term making an “executive decision.” We all know this works out better in the end. Most of us want to be liked- that’s part of our human make up, but odds are pretty good you’re not being paid to be liked. While I want my children to love me my goal is not to be their friend. My goal is to be respected and listened to. We can all be friends after they graduate from Stanford. aWhen I first began my career in entertainment I had very sage words bestowed on me: It’s not “showfriends” it’s showbusiness! Be clear when you communicate – speaking simply does NOT mean talking do to someone.
Keep from contradicting yourself.
Every one wants to feel like they are important to you. Your child, your employee, your protégé. The worst feeling in the world is when my daughter is asking me a question but I’m only half answering her because I’m also checking my phone or trying to get back to someone quickly. She’ll pull at me saying, “Mommy please don’t do e-mail now!” It’s heartbreaking, but it also it poignant. Just because she is two doesn’t mean she doesn’t know what’s going on- she is very much aware that my attention is being divided. Your employee may not be able to pull on your arm, slap your Blackberry out of your hands and whine (as much as they might want to) but they will remember the attention you gave them and they will reciprocate. Not to get all “Cat’s in the Craddle” on you.
Which brings me to #?. Lead by example. When you are in charge people will mimic your behavior. Toddlers do it and adults do it. It is such an ingrained part of human nature most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Studies have shown that people in meetings and on dates will physically mimic by crossing their legs the same way or touching their face subconsciously. Which is why it is imperative to be conscious of what message you’re sending, what words you are using and how react. Because everyone you are in charge of looks to you for how they should react.
Have you ever seen a baby fall down and if they don’t think anyone’s seen them fall they get right back up. But if that same baby catches their mother or father react in shock or any emotion that is upsetting they begin to cry. Why? Because that was the cue they were given. Adults are the same way. If there is a crisis or perceived crisis people look to their superiors for external cues for how to react. This is your time to keep cool, acknowledge the situation but say, “We’re in a time of crisis, but I have a plan…” You made need some time to work on that plan, but since the only thing that is final is death- there’s a good chance something to avert the crisis or recover can be done.
Karith Foster: Speaker, Humorist, Author
Karith Foster is a stand-up comedian, motivational speaker, TV & radio personality, actress, author, blogger and entrepreneur.
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