From Little Leaders to Excelling Executives

Guess the age of the coaching “client” for this discussion:

Me: “You know your sense of humor? Sarcasm can be really fun and enjoyable. People tend to enjoy wit. How are people responding to you when you are sarcastic?”
Client: “Well, I get lots of laughs in the moment.”
Me: “Okay, so what do you think they think after the ‘moment’ has come and gone?”
Client: “Well, I’ve been told that I’m kind of a jerk.”
Me: “How do you want to show up as a friend or leader? What impression do you really want to make?”

This was a literal coaching conversation I had two weeks in a row; first with the 7-year-old boy, next with the 45-year-old executive leader. For whom was the consequence more painful? When would you like to learn that lesson?

For those of you just getting to know me, not only am I passionate about talent in the business world, but the talent that’s developing in my own household. As I spoke earlier about strengths, one of mine is “connectedness.” A key part of that strength is the idea that “Things happens for a reason. I am sure of it.” I strongly believe that there is no chance or coincidence that I should be raising two children while I’m in the midst of coaching leaders.

Now, not to oversimplify the topic and say that all leaders are basically children who either choose to behave or not based on the consequences. I like to think we’re more evolved as adults. But, what I will say is that whether I pick up “Good to Great” or “Managing your Strong-Willed Child,” is sometimes dependent on the topic and challenge, not necessarily the age of the coaching client.

After all, as a parent, aren’t I leading my children to behave in a way that creates the greatest return for them as humans? Isn’t that what you try to do with people you lead?

As a leader, you are inevitably a coach as well. If you have “little” leaders in your household, remember that they are fodder for your coaching practice.

Practicing open-ended questions and creating dialogue? They’ll give you a run for your money.

Trying to really understand what situationally motivates each person you lead around adopting a new policy? Ask and determine what makes a 9-year-old motivated to follow a new house rule.

Trying to get everyone behind change? Move a family of four across the country and practice your communication skills throughout.

At the end of the day, we’re all humans in different states of evolution. Effective communication and leadership is likely just as important, if not more so, out of the office than inside the boardroom. What similarities have you noticed?  What tips do you have for “developing” little boys into great adults? (Thanks, I can always use extra help in that area!)


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