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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer

Leaders, Parents & the 101

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

Leaders, Parents & the 101. In my Next Level Leadership training, I ask the question: is leadership how you lead or how your employees need to be led? It usually yields a robust conversation with the outcome being that the question should be an AND rather than an OR. Leadership requires you to be consistent (as a leader, I am fair, direct, decisive and empathetic) so your colleagues know what to expect when they work with and interact with you. AND your leadership should be adaptable and flexible to the needs of the individual employee. Each employee is different, so meeting them where they are and bringing them to their full potential should be a goal of your leadership as well.

As leaders, it is incumbent on us to understand the full employee which includes neurodiversity, how they learn, how best to deliver feedback, their work style, and comfort levels in different communication scenarios. The more we can tap into what the employee needs from us as leaders, the more we can be of service to unlock all they have to offer.

Parenting is very much the same. Parents have a ‘brand’: the funny dad, the supportive mom, the strict parents, and your kids come to rely on who you are – anticipating a response, making choices based on how you have taught and guided them. And if you have siblings, you know that parents also need to flex to meet each child where they are to meet their individual needs. Who the child is and what their specific needs are, guides parent on how they need to be parented.

So how does the 101* enter this conversation? As I relocated to the second stop on my nomad adventure, we found ourselves driving on the 101 in northern California. The road was two lanes on each side, surrounded by farmland and vineyards. For anyone who has traveled this long freeway*, you know that at parts it is 5 lanes or goes down to one, it goes through cities and small towns, you can see residential buildings, shopping centers or the beach. The 101 gets precariously close to the ocean at parts and can be straight or very curvy. It is a road, just a freeway, that gets you from here to there. AND it accommodates the topography and the needs of the local communities. It adapts as needed to meet what the geography requires.

As I continue this adventure, I am looking for more of the differences and leaning into each community. Can you do the same as a leader? Celebrate diversity, include different voices, find richer solutions by unlocking all that each employee has to offer? As a parent, how are your kids alike and how can you encourage their varying interests and what success looks like for each individually? And as you drive the long highways, notice why the speed limit changes – it often means something has changed around you: the curve of the road, the scenery, AND there is something unique to experience.

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