Over a period of twelve weeks, my wife and I were privileged to facilitate a parenting course. It was clear that most participants were eager to learn, inasmuch as some seemed a tad sceptical as to the efficacy of the course. The course is designed for parents to equip them with practical parenting skills, discipline ‘how-to’ as well as enhancing the parent-child relationship.
As the participants embraced the lessons, they reported marked improvement in their children’s discipline and engagement. The parents also realized that they had a lot of adjustments they had to make in their own behaviour for their children to tow the line.
1) Recognize your current status
A critical mark of a leader is accepting that they do not know everything. Leaders know their weaknesses and seek out ways to plug in these deficiencies. In other words, true leaders demonstrate a high level of humility. It is what differentiates them from a run of the mill existence. In learning they become more competent. “A competent person does what he does well, continually preserving and distilling what’s best – and stop doing what he doesn’t do well,” John C. Maxwell.
2) Invest in knowledge
Continuous learning is the fire that burns under the seat of any credible leader. At one point in your life, you have to accept that you need to reach out for help. Joining a 12-week course and sitting through two-hour sessions at 6:30am on any Saturday is not for the faint hearted! Identify the leadership areas that you need to work on, and doggedly pursue the knowledge that will help you improve on them. Remember, admitting that you do not know something does not make you vulnerable. It strengthens you, as you are able to grow from others who have struggled with the same issues and won.
3) Lead by example
Followers will not naturally do what the leader is not practicing. In fact, human beings, like water, tend to follow the path of least resistance. If they do follow, most probably it is out of fear, not choice. For discipline to ‘stick in the ribs’, practical examples will have a major influence on your followers. If young children must eat their vegetables, your guess is as good as mine what you need to do. You cannot be chewing on a steak and expect them to plough through a pile of green stuff! It cannot be expected that followers will take the desired action unless the leader walks the plank first.
4) Presence marks the spot
Leadership, parenting and apprenticeship have one common feature: quality time needed. Time to demonstrate how a tool works, guide on practical life skills and cultivate/nurture how social interaction works. Masterpieces inspire the apprentice towards refined skill. A leader will not have any impact unless they establish that values can only be imparted over time. According to psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck, “Until you value yourself, you won’t be able to value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” The same applies to leadership. You have to choose to be available.
5) Leadership starts with you
It is all in the mind. When it comes to indiscipline, many are surprised to realize that a major proportion of blame lies with them and not the child. To the child, everything they encounter is new. The child needs to be immersed into a culture of discipline for them to know what indiscipline is and its consequences. For your child to be disciplined, you have to lead by example. Do not expect your son or daughter to clean up after whatever odyssey they have been up to, when you leave a trail of destruction everywhere you go.
When one decides to take on true leadership, problems just become challenges to be surmounted. “Did you live, did you love, and did you matter?” Brendon Burchard, author of ‘Millionaire Messenger’ and ‘The Charge’. Over to you…