How Being a Parent Improves Your Leadership Competency

by  Karin Hurt  |  Leadership Development
How Being a Parent Improves Your Leadership Competency

With all the juggling and balancing of being a parent and doing your leadership day job, it’s easy to feel like you can never do enough.

After all, you only have so many hours in a day, and on most days someone gets the short stick. If you’re like me, there are days the guilt comes on so strong you wonder if you’re trying to do too much.

Maybe your kids would be better off if you worked less. Or perhaps your team would be stronger if you didn’t have your competing parenting priorities.

Let me introduce an important reframing. chances are you are actually a better leader because of your parenting, not in spite of it.

Look around at the best leaders you know. I bet that at some point in their lives, they went home at night to what they considered their most important job, kissed them, and tucked them in bed.

Juggling makes us better multi-taskers. Wiping tears makes us better listeners. Parenting is all about influence. So is leadership.

8 Ways Parenting Improves Leadership Competency

As a parent you must:

  1. Care Deeply About Results – How your children turn out matters a lot. You care about outcomes and learn to watch for signs of improvement or indications your sweet little project is getting off course. Caring deeply is the first step to making a difference.
  2. Manage Through The Shock Factor – My mom’s favorite story is when I ate the diaper pail deodorizer. I’ve got some doozies from my own kids. Parents deal with such stupidity around the clock. So it takes more than a little workplace nonsense to get us rattled.
  3. Take The Long View – Parents invest deeply for the long run. They know that every move won’t be perfect, but they’re going for the long-term impact. Leaders see mistakes as an opportunity to grow.
  4. Juggle To Survive – For most parents juggling has become an important survival skill. This translates well to prioritizing and getting a heck of a lot done.
  5. Be Resourceful – No funding? Ask a parent to figure out a way to make it happen. Parents have to get creative and make the most of what they’ve got lying around.
  6. Act Like A Grown-Up – My friend says that she considers a finished book report a win if the kid is the only one crying. Parents get enough drama at home; they don’t have energy to get sucked into more of it at work.
  7. Speak Simply & Check For Understanding – Parents know that just because you ask a kid to do something, doesn’t mean they heard you. They learn to double-check to ensure the message is clear.
  8. Influence – To simply say “because mommy said so” doesn’t work. Parents learn to influence and inspire the behaviors they most want to see in their children.

It works the other way too. Being a good leader is a great way to develop leadership in your children.

Are you interested in developing leadership in your children? Then you might be interested in the Parent’s Guide To Leadership, a free ebook, available for download at Let’s Grow Leaders.

NOTE: There will not be a Lead Change Group post tomorrow (12/31/14). We look forward to greeting you on 1/2/15 with our first post of the year! ~ pk


Have you seen ways in which parenting helps build leadership competencies? Tell me about them…

About The Author

Articles By karin-hurt
Karin Hurt is a leadership speaker, consultant and MBA professor. She’s a former Verizon Wireless executive with 2 decades of diverse cross-functional experience in sales, customer service and HR. She was recently recognized on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Speakers for your next conference, AMA’s 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, and Trust Across America’s 100 Thought Leaders in Trusted Business Behavior.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

John E. Smith  |  30 Dec 2014  |  Reply

Hi, Karin:)

Powerful and useful post, using a metaphor that many of us can relate to easily. Your fourth skill “Juggle to Survive” might well be the best description of daily life as a parent that I have read. Much of value exists when we recognize how our skills from one part of our life can be useful in other areas and your post helps us do this beautifully.

Your post did raise a question in my mind about how general this analogy is. My experience as a parent was that the whole world seemed to be families with kids, but when I looked at the statistics, I found something surprisingly. According to the 2012 U. S. government report “America’s Families and Living Arrangments”, only 20% of households include a married couple with children and including single parents with children only adds 9% more. Although I am sure a significant number of parents live apart from their children, but still function in the parental role, this is still a much smaller number than I was expecting.

… which brings up a somewhat tongue-in-cheek question: Where do the single folks get leadership inspiration from:)?


PS: Here is a link to the report I mentioned – long and dull, but with fascinating number-crunching:

Karin Hurt  |  31 Dec 2014  |  Reply

John, That’s a very interesting statistic. I imagine that some additional folks have children who are grown. Of course lots of great folks without kids are strong leaders. My main point here is sometimes I hear folks think that somehow they are worse off because of competing priorities, when in fact, they may be overlooking all the good skills that come from the crazy juggling act we call life ;-) Happy new year.

John E. Smith  |  03 Jan 2015  |  Reply

That’s a very good point, Karen, and you made it well:)


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