Every ending is a new beginning

It has been quite a summer for the Ryan family.  Starting in June we have had two weddings, one in mid-June and the other in mid-August.  Both went off well with nary a hitch and we are new in a new stage of our lives.

Being a parent is not so much different than being a manager of leader.  Parents go through phases and leaders do the same.  Let’s spend a little time this morning comparing the phases of parenthood with the phases of leadership.

I’ll use the table below to compare some similar stages in parenting and leadership:



Leadership of a Team or Group

Birth and infancy During this stage the parent does it all.  The children need constant attention and need to have everything either done for them or simplified as much as possible. Not quite as controlling as the parenting example, but a leader of a new team does need to be overly focused on “laying down the law” to ensure that everyone on the team knows what to do and when to do it.
Elementary years Children leave the home and are exposed to education in a number of areas that will benefit them throughout their lives.  They learn to interact with others and also gain exposure to outside activities with others. Teams learn constantly through their daily work and classroom training as needed.  They slowly develop the ability to work well with others and also gain skills in working with others outside the workplace.
High School Children gain a greater amount of independence and autonomy.  They more fully focus their learning and interests and also gain greater mobility through driving. Team members advance also through more focused role performance and cross-training on other roles.  They learn more about other teams and consider options outside of their current team.
Post-Secondary or Collegiate Children “leave the nest” and learn on their own with minimal input from the parental unit.  They fail at a greater rate, but also learn at a faster rate as they savor their independence. Team members become more self-directed and learn how to manage and lead their own teams in many cases.  They may fail more, but this failure is invaluable in helping them grow and gain perspective for future ventures.
Marriage or Independence Children leave the nest for good and establish their own household.  Many will do this through marriage or in other arrangements.  They become autonomous, independent families. Team members form a team of their own or become a member of another team.  They may choose to align with former team members or may strike off in a totally different direction, possibly taking an entrepreneurial route.

I have found that there are a number of interesting parallels between development in the household and development in the workplace or within a team.  The most stark difference is that team development typically occurs much more rapidly versus child development.  The team member may be a member of multiple teams during his or her career in the same span that a young person grows and develops in the household.

The key factor for leaders as well as parents is that they need to learn when to let the team lead themselves.  I have seen many teams and parents fail to get out of the way and this over management causes the child as well as the team member to become overly dependent on the leader or parent.  The term “helicopter parent” comes to mind here, especially in the secondary and post-secondary years.

As a leader and a parent your role is clear.  Do what you must to prepare the team member or the child and then get out of the way.  Failure is not only an option, it is essential, so don’t fret when your child or team fails.  Do be available when this failure occurs to give perspective and advice, but don’t prevent the failure unless it is life threatening.

What do you think?