Parenting as leadership: part 3

by Gillian

 

 

 

Four month sleep regression.

“Gaaaaaaaaah” the baby complained, eyes half closed, small fingers reaching for the toes he had just discovered. “I know darling,” I crooned gently, “it’s ok. Now just go the f-… uh… just go to sleep.” He gave a shuddering sigh, peered at me from beneath half-closed, tired little eyes and yawned.

Moments of stress and exhaustion as a parent reminds us that being a parent, and actually BEING a parent are two entirely different experiences with different outcomes. Creating a child and acquiring the title of parent, that is just the beginning. Actually being the parent your child needs in the moment in front of us right now is the critical and very real aspect of being a parent.

It is the same for leadership. You can see around you the people who fill a leader role, and those who actually are leaders who provide leadership. It is easy to fill a role when the going is good. It is when the stress and troubles arise that only some people are able to make the transition from a person with a leader title to a person providing leadership. Leadership and parenting are, at the base of it all, the actions we take to influence others, and they both require us to work a little harder to be better people.

“AHHHH”, yelled the baby, frustrated and tired. I leaned into his cot and kissed his little face. “How about a bedtime story little monkey? Would that help?”  “Once upon a time, there was a mother who believed strongly that there was a difference between being a leader and providing leadership,” I began, and looked at him. He looked back expectantly and popped off a round of small farts.  “Wait I need my tea.”

I traipsed into the living room to retrieve my now cold cup of tea and returned to the bedroom to find he had escalated the situation to a Code Red. “Come here,” I said, and gathered him into my arms as I sat in the rocking chair. “One day this mother went for a walk in the woods with her baby son in search of a house made of chocolate where coffee came out of one tap, and gin out of the other. In the heart of the wood she came across a wolf? Troll? Wizard? Ok a wizard who stopped the mother and offered to bestow talents on her son which would make him into a great leader.”

“Now kiddo, the mother knew that a problem arises when we try to create leaders yet fail to understand that leadership is what our world really needs. When we provide a checklist for becoming a leader, we ultimately create an individual who is inwardly focused on their own culturally defined ideal abilities, but we do not necessarily develop leadership.”

“You see, leadership is more than an individual having certain born traits, which is rather inflexible and does not take into account the myriad of situations that require leadership. Leadership is being able to accept and embrace one’s personal traits, being able to develop the skills and behaviours which are necessary to the situation requiring leadership, and having the ability to develop and maintain  relationships with people.”

“And that is the key difference between developing a leader and developing leadership. Developing a leader is an individual activity, a self-focused checklist that has merit but lacks substance. Developing leadership is far more intangible – it is perceived by others, it influences others, and it is how we experience the leader.”

I looked down at my sleepy baby. His eyes were fluttering shut, and I laid him down in the cot, hands on his chest, as he settled deeper into sleep. “In many ways, leadership is about taking our eyes off our own self-development, and being consciously aware of helping others navigate a situation to a successful outcome.” I whispered. “Some things come naturally to a leader, and some things need to be learned and developed to provide the leadership required. Very similar to how a parent helps a child to navigate their way through life’s experiences. Some things come natural to the parent, and others turn out different from how we expect or want, and we have to consciously work harder on to provide the parenting that our child needs.”

“So the mother said to the wizard that she would turn down the offer. Between the two of them – parent and child – they got this. Perhaps the wizard had an alternative offer? A house made of chocolate…?” Baby stirred and I dropped to the floor out of sight. “The wizard bestowed the child with a long nap, and they all lived happily ever after.” I whispered as I ninja crawled out of the room 

 

Gillian is a ShanghaiMama with a Masters degree in Leadership and an interest in leadership development in young people.  She loves to research and she can be identified by the yoga pants which are permanently fluffy from sitting on the floor with her Kiwi-Danish kids (a Horse preschooler and a Monkey baby).

 

Gillian is a ShanghaiMama with a Masters degree in Leadership and an interest in leadership development in young people.  She loves to research and she can be identified by the yoga pants which are permanently fluffy from sitting on the floor with her Kiwi-Danish kids (a Horse preschooler and a Monkey baby).