Hopeful tears rolled down my British and my wife’s Fijian cheeks like streams that suddenly appears across a dried up desert after an unexpected rainfall.
Leadership Begins at Home! What Are You Giving Your Kids? Wings or Rocks?
“Why do you have to be so difficult? Why do you argue with everything we say? Are we such horrible parents that you need to punish us?”
For parents of teenagers or young adults, the above words, or, at least, something very similar will be all too familiar. Many parents secretly find themselves weeping into a pillow at the apparent loss of their once beloved child who seems to have rejected everything they, the parents, hold dear.
Most parents genuinely want the best for their children. However, what few parents understand is that their idea of “the best” may be at odds of what their children think is “the best.” This is particularly true within the context of a family business where parents often have a deep desire to not only pass on a set of values and a legacy but the actual family business itself. Seeing a child in rebellion, especially full-on revolt, can not only be acutely painful, but it can make the cherished dream of having an offspring become the leader in your footsteps seem like pure fantasy.
So what’s a parent to do?
You probably know about the concept of cause and effect, AKA causality. It’s the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), when the effect is the direct result of the event.
For instance, if you hit your thumb with a hammer (the cause), your thumb is going to hurt (the effect.) Often we can figure out the cause simply by looking at the effect. In this example, if you see a smashed thumb and a hammer nearby, you can be pretty confident that the cause of the injury was the hammer.
But when it comes to people, particularly in relation to corporate culture and specifically declining innovation cause and effect can get more than a little fuzzy.
Leadership is Uncomfortable
For most of my life I have had some form of a leadership role, and let me tell you, (maybe you,re not that way but) every now and then I have moments where being a leader makes it hard to be in my own skin.
Leadership Is Uncomfortable Because It’s Supposed To Be!
As Seth Godin writes in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us,
“Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required in leading others . . .. . . . It’s un- comfortable to stand up in front of strangers. It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail. It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo. It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle. When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found the place where a leader is needed. If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.”
How Much Loyalty Can You Buy?
Back in the 1970’s 10cc, a band from my home town had a massive hit with a song entitled The Things We Do For Love. It was an angsty song about the seemingly foolish things that we are willing to do for love.
Underneath its sort of silly lyrics is a greater truth, however. We’ve all heard that money makes the world go around, and maybe that’s true on one level, but love (and bonding) I would suggest are far more of a motivating force. Human beings are willingly do things for love that they wouldn’t consider doing for money. I’m not just talking about the sacrifices that a parent makes for a child or a spouse for their partner. Those sorts of things are societally conditioned in to us, and are therefore expected.
What I’m talking about is the kind of fully willing, self-sacrifice that is part and parcel of the job of someone like a Secret Service agent.
Think about it for a minute, how many jobs have you interviewed for where you are required to literally take a bullet for the boss? Yet, that is exactly what Secret Service agents pledge to do, they willingly sign up to defend the President with their very lives. Maybe you are feeling a little cynical about whether these guys really would take a bullet, maybe you’re thinking; that’s never going to actually happen. Well, despite the fact that it is usually very difficult to get close enough to the President to actually shoot him, twelve Secret Service agents have taken a bullet for a President over the years.