Father and son
Father and son by MarcelaHernouxPhotography

Who has never met somebody at work and say a couple of years after, he or she was a real father / mother for me… I grew up so much during my tenure during this role. He taught me so much.. She cared so much about me and our team…

Leadership is defined by the New Oxford Dictionary of English as: ‘the action of leading a group of people or an organisation’. However the range of actions included in this definition remains vague and left to the appreciation of many.

In this article, based on my recent experience as a father, I would like to offer you four reasons parenthood can inspire you to become a better leader.

1- Develop a clear vision of what to become as a family

As a family, we are all different and unique but we are also one living together good and bad moments. From birth we will all experiment happy and difficult moments where our family is the very first place we can search out for strength and comfort.

However, for this to work, an ambiance of acceptance and encouragement has to be put in place. Trust is key to travel together in this lifelong journey and parents must be the captain in charge of sailing everyday the boat to the right direction.

As parents, we must make sure our children grow in a certain structure that will make them ready to live in society while offering them the tools to think independently and make the right decisions.

We have to build a vision of what we want to become together and develop it with the support of all family members. We have to find what unites us and not divides us permanently.

In a business the role of the leader is to create the right culture for its talents to thrive and reach their objectives both professional but also personal to retain them over time.

The goal is to lead to a common objective where both businesses and talents will be better off. As parenthood, vision is what unites people together, make them stick and grow unanimously.

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2- Define the values that power you as a unit

Values are what allow us to take the toughest decisions of our lives. They are defined as the moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social group like a family or a business.

While the vision of what we want to become as a family is the ideal we want to work for, the values are the guiding principles through how we want to achieve that.

We are all different as individuals and we value different things unevenly. However, when we face tough decisions, we need to find common ground to respond the right way.

For some, it will be based on religion, others on rules that have always been in place in the family. Above all, we all need to get the same rules to respond in the right way, learn and grow..

For corporate leaders, this is just the same. People come from different cultures, background, religions and have different priorities in life. The role of the leader is to define and convey over time the set of rules that will be used to grow the business overtime.

How to do it ? Jack Welch, the ex-CEO of GE developed a specific matrix called the Performance / Values Matrix. It clearly states that culture fit should always be preferred to performance fit to develop a business in the long-term.

Performance Value matrix from Jack Welsh as explained by AVA

From quality, to honesty or care, some are just examples that I value and carry on through my activities while hiring or joining new businesses. Think about what yours are and hire and retain only people that fit yours. You will save many hours wondering if you made the right decisions in your career..

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3- Deliver results through basic but powerful metrics

Numbers people, I have good news for you. Parenthood is also a lot about numbers. From numbers of baby’s bottles to give or the average volume a baby needs to drink from Mommy’s breast, to counting how much the little darling pees or poops to make sure everything is normal, there are a lot of metrics to keep in mind.

Sounds familiar ? Our way of working was to log everything to measure the progress days after days and months after months. The result? The capacity to anticipate baby being hungry at 4am, more comfort for him and longer(ish) nights of sleep for us.. Sounds regimental? People and businesses always go further, quicker and easier with systems in place. For more tips, ask your paediatrician 🙂

In business, many will have recognised the basics of a business plan and a forecast.. Look at the big picture, break it down in small steps, know the activities you have to do every day, measure them and act upon them. Fail fast, learn fast and grow quickly! In summary, be agile !!

Anybody can do a basic form of log tracking and bring more success to the growth phase of a newborn little darling or company. Take the time to review your market position per activity (the SWOT), think about micro / macro economics affecting your business (PESTEL / PORTER). Make sure to know what is your unicity or superiority in the market. Then, you’ll be ready for success.

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4- Prioritise what is important for growth

If parenthood can be described as something wonderful, it is also sometimes overwhelming, with the schedule of the new arrival added to the obligations of the house. From shopping to going out for a meal with the better-half or friends, everything becomes different and priorities must be reshuffled.

Like in business, parents’ days start early and finish late with sometimes (especially at the beginning) very little time to rest at night. Knowing and acting on what is truly important or or urgent becomes key.

For Eisenhower, we can assign tasks to four different categories depending on their importance and their urgency. Most importantly, if we should tackle first the important / urgent, we should focus most of our time in the important / not urgent to build a system for success.

The Eisenhower time matrix adapted from Business Savvy Mama

For parents to leaders, it is our duty to prioritise invaluable things and organise our days to make sure we tackle all roles in life. Nobody can do it for us and leaving the world running our priorities is a poor choice that will have one day or another an impact on our health and our career or lives over time.

The Wheel of Life as proposed by leading coach Tony Robbins can be a great place to start. Have a look at what matters to you in life, assess where you are today and set up the right development plan for growth in areas that matter to you and your happiness.

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Parenthood and leadership a human growth accelerator

Parenthood is a unique experience making you live all types of feelings on a daily basis. It also teaches you key values like patience, care and dedication. It places you in a way bigger spectrum than where you thought you were before. If forces you to understand how to make life better for you and your family everyday.

Leadership is a similar experience at the head of an organisation. From defining the vision to creating the right team to deliver the expected results, it challenges you on a daily basis to manage people like a family. It makes you take difficult decisions with the right values to grow and for everybody’s best interest.

Parenthood teaches you so much on how to become a better leader. But realistically, we should all become more leaders’ of our own lives. And to those wondering, isn’t great leadership also the perfect learning opportunity to become amazing parents ?

Feeling like in the same boat and want to share your experience, leave us a comment below or drop us an email at contact(at)guillaumehernoux(dot)com. Parents, leaders, followers, tell us what you think and let’s have a chat !

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