By: Charles Thomas, Jr., EdD '14
Leadership starts in the home. As a leader in your home, you set the standard. Often times, we feel that we cannot lead because we do not have a corner office or don the appropriate title. Such thinking can be damaging to one’s confidence level and can cause people to think that the leadership skills developed, taught, and employed within the home environment are not applicable within the workplace or elsewhere.
As a father, husband, and leader in our home, I am mindful of my role. I am aware that my words and actions matter. As a result, it is essential that I think, speak, and act accordingly. If I do not make a conscious decision to be a leader at home, it is highly unlikely that I can even pretend to be a leader elsewhere.
As a leader in your home, there are many transferable skills that should be used to help lead your family, and by extension, others. I offer three strategies– continual learning, self-awareness, and listening.
Leadership begins with self-leadership—and this begins with knowing that you don’t know everything. One cannot lead if you are unwilling to learn. Leaders must delineate and define their goals and values, understand their personal strengths, and should appreciate alternative perspectives. Leaders must also engage in the daily habit of refreshing and deepening self-knowledge while constantly engaging with an evolving world (Lowney, 2003). This level of self-knowledge is derived from a willingness to engage in continual learning. Adaptability and flexibility in an evolving world can only take place if individuals are aware of their surroundings and are humbly willing to learn, reflect, and thoughtfully respond in familiar and/or uncertain situations. Continual learning is of elemental importance and starts at home. Observing, reading, and reflecting on your familial engagements will create consistent behaviors that can be applied elsewhere. Continual learning is a trademark of some of the world’s best leaders and that practice began at home. It works for them and it can work for us.
While success in any job is not possible without technical or vocational skills, those skills alone do not guarantee success. Individuals must understand their strengths and weaknesses as well as their leadership style and ability to effectively engage with others. Self-awareness is critical because it helps us better understand our strengths and deficiencies. We should continually strive to understand our moods, emotions, desires, and motivations. Our ability to maintain a high level of self-awareness is critical as we deal with issues of increasing complexity, variety, and intensity within or external to the home. If we cannot engage at the appropriate level within the safety of our own homes, it is improbable that we will be able to meet those demands in a world that does not slow down simply because we want it to do so. Self-awareness affords us the opportunity to reflect, develop an integrated worldview and value system, appreciate ourselves as being loved and important, tune out daily distractions, and make informed caring decisions (Lowney, 2003). Self-awareness allows us to observe, listen, and remain intellectually and emotionally flexible as we lead and are led in times of familiarity and uncertainty.
We have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth. We should watch and listen twice as much as we talk. Listening is a critical skill in the home. We are hardly omniscient. What we lack in knowledge (and sometimes decorum), we can make up for in a willingness to listen. If we remain open to listening, we can set an example for others in our homes to do the same. If children observe parents that listen respectfully to each other, they will likely develop and practice this pivotally important skill. Therefore, it is important to listen to others and consider alternative perspectives prior to sharing personal views. Listening allows us to view the world through the mind of another. This skill shows others that you are willing to consider their perspectives, reflect on those perspectives, and respond in a respectful manner. Listening does not mean that you will necessarily agree or heed the provided counsel, but it does demonstrate respect and a method of human engagement that will likely be welcomed and well-received. Practicing and modeling listening starts in the home.
Leadership is a never-ending journey. Continual learning, self-awareness, and listening are of paramount importance on that journey. Those leadership skills start and are developed within the home. As we lead and are led within our homes and leverage the acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities at work and in the community, we must remain mindful that we will never attain perfection. We will, as human beings, make mistakes. As a leader of ourselves and within our homes, we must continually strive to improve. A life of learning, listening, and reflection protect us from egocentricity, insouciance, and anxiety that constrict our growth and prevent us from effectively transitioning the life learned lessons within the home to external worlds in which we can be of useful service to our families and to others.
Creighton University’s online Doctorate in Leadership can help prepare you to become a trusted leader in your organization and personal life. To learn more, call us at 866.717.6365 to speak to a Program Manager or request more information today.
Lowney, C. (2003). Heroic leadership: Best practices from a 450-year-old company that changed the world. Chicago: Loyola Press.