I have recently learned that I have been a Coach in one form or another most of my life. Being a hospitality service guru and trainer was only a part of it. The beginning of my coaching journey started when I became a mom, and I never realized it. Being a mom shaped me into the Leader I have become today.
As I reflect and put things into perspective, I am humbled by how much I have learned.
When you are leading people, you quickly learn how to manage and lead, or you become controlled by situations, and you spend too much time being reactive. You learn the difference between a leader and a boss. Some of those lessons are absorbed hard, others you miss. I think about my daughter, who is my most prominent critic and my greatest fan and I cannot help but reflect on many parental practices that I brought into my work world that shaped my teams and taught them empathy in a way that was sincere, loving, and practical. It helped me to get the best out of the people I worked with.
My daughter was always honest and gave things to me straight. Even when very young she never minced words. I was clear when it came to her. No matter how large or small the request. I think about how I applied this in the office, and I mirrored her behavior. I was clear with my team. They knew what was expected and together we all worked toward a common goal that was clear to all of us.
Watching her grow up was terrific and intricate. I stopped breathing every time she went somewhere without me and did not start back until she was safely home to me. It was as if my heart was running around on the outside of my body and I was fearful of what damage could happen if I were not careful enough. I also felt this way about the teams I was trusted to lead.
I treated my teams the same way. I gave everything I had as a leader, and when they had projects and presentations to present, I was the breathless parent until the task was complete helping them to succeed at all cost. If they failed then so did I. That was something that permeated a culture I maintained and reciprocated.
Now she is a healthy, vibrant adult. She now gives me advice. Our roles are changing and evolving the older she gets. I grew with her, I learned from her and made sure she was safe and successful. Steve Jobs said, “You do not hire smart people to tell them what to do, You hire smart people so that they can tell you what to do.”
When we are leaders, our roles change. We should grow with our teams and make it our duties to ensure they have the tools they need to be successful. We should trust our teams. (after all, we hired them) We are also responsible for making sure we pay it forward.
When we get the harsh feedback from our teams, we need not ignore it or be offended by it, but rise to the occasion and address it. Our teams are a reflection of who we are as leaders. Just like our children are a reflection of who we are as parents.
I never thought lessons such as these could guide me. They have and continue to in my coaching practice with my clients. I challenge you to bring to your leadership style, truth, authentic conversations, genuine feedback, support, and empathy. You will be pleasantly surprised with your results.