Thirteen years ago today, I became a mother. I’ve learned a lot in the parenting years, and many of those lessons apply to my communications career. Actually, they apply to just about any career. Parenting parallels exist everywhere in life.
Here’s one of the best: Because I’m the mom won’t work forever. In fact, in my case, it didn’t work long at all. What I’ve found is that I can use that phrase to strong-arm grudging compliance, but it does nothing to earn respect or teach values. Because I’m the mom doesn’t explain why, and it certainly doesn’t build a foundation for the child to make intelligent, logical decisions of his own in the future. At best, it hopes that he will make an appropriate connection on his own to understand the reasoning behind whatever decision was at hand.
Before you get up in arms, let me say that, as a parent, there are certainly times when obedience without question is necessary. All I’m saying is that overplaying that card doesn’t offer any life lessons and can even foster a cry-wolf mentality. At the time of the decision (or decree, as my kids often see it), it may not be appropriate to engage in discussion about it, particularly when the outcome is not open for debate. Later on when the matter is settled and tempers have cooled, however, there is ample opportunity to explain the values and logic driving it.
Although I describe this as a parental philosophy, I think it goes far beyond application in the home. I neither foster loyalty among my employees nor set them up to make their own sound decisions when every time I ask them to do something a certain way, I tell them it’s because I’m the boss. That kind of behavior ultimately leaves me ineffective as a manager–my employees become simply more arms and legs, not more brain power. I need a band of thinkers, of people who know what to do and get it done without being given a clear set of instructions at every turn.
Yeah, sometimes because I’m the mom (boss) works. It keeps my daughter from giving her $20 bill to a friend just because, it forces my son to do his homework without debating the validity of the assignment, and it allows me to get critical information without question for a presentation my boss needs for a confidential project. It gets things done right now, but if I don’t back it up at some point with logic, it won’t help me the next time around. Think about it.
Happy birthday, Jake!