being a parent and a leader is a challenging rule

Dedicated to all the Parents & Leaders around the world — Thank you for your commitment to those who need it the most. #SkillsGap


I recently read a fantastic article by Marc Chernoff regarding his struggle as a parent raising a young child. It resonated with me personally as a parent (of an amazing four year old son) and professionally as a talent and development professional.

Below is part of the articles original list and then I included what I believe translates to critical skills every leader should possess in the workplace. 


{ No. ONE }
” Trust yourself. You know far more than you think you do.”

  • As a leader: Your role will require you to make tough decisions and take actions that you will undoubtedly question but that’s normal and in fact human. They key is to surround yourself with a great sounding board who can support you when needed and remind you who you are and why you are in that role in the first place. Here is an additional article to support you: 45 Things You Should Give Up Today To Live A Happier Life


{ No. TWO }
“Parenting is unquestionably one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but in exchange it teaches you about the meaning and power of unconditional love.”

  • As a leader: Being accountable for another person is filled with a myriad of unknowns. It too can be a hard thing – especially if you’ve never been in that seat before, but what’s possible is something…well, unconditional. Learning to care for another on any level shows an incredible amount of emotional intelligence amongst other critical qualities for a successful career. Some of the hardest roads are the ones less traveled but always worth the effort in the end. Here is an additional article to support you: 100 Movies To Motivate, Inspire and Promote Learning and Leadership

{ No. THREE }
“No one is ever quite ready – every parent is caught off guard, again and again.  Parenthood chooses you every day, not the other way around.  It’s not a question of choice.  It’s a presence, of love.”

  • As a leader: You will be thrown into both the roles and situations of a lifetime, sometimes leaving you way outside your comfort zone wondering “why me” or “how did I get here?” in regards to your career. Nowadays there are hundreds of places to learn and get schooled on leadership development but many will tell you the best training is on the job. Being a leader doesn’t come with a crystal ball and you won’t be able to secretly see things others can’t, but you may (depending on the situation) have a clear line of sight into key opportunities for both the growth of your company, team and self. Strive to keep an open mind and heart and embrace what comes your way. Remember, being a leader is a calling and some people choose to shine away from the spotlight. If you happen to be in a leadership type role then clearly someone see’s that you have the ability to be there. Here is an additional article to support you: Practicing Mindfulness: 20 Reasons Why You Should Live in the Present


{ No. FOUR }
“Being a parent is a daily attitude, not a biological relation.”

  • As a leader: Your relationship to your people and their overall happiness and development should always be top priority. For some it’s going from “bud to boss” where you may now be leading your former peers. For others, it could be working for your family owned company. The bottom line is that you should never allow a personal (or biological) connection to cloud your judgement. I realize this sounds easier said than done but in any leadership level role, you will be required to make tough calls and the challenge of leading from your head versus your heart will most certainly come into play. The attitude, energy and vision you bring to your role will ultimately set forth and dictate the actions you take so focus on the task at hand and what will provide you the most success in achieving that goal. Here is an additional article to support you25 Reasons You Should Never Give Up On Yourself


{ No. FIVE }
“To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to make time to be in their lives today. Every day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. The more present we are, the more deposits we get to make.”

  • As a leader: Your presence and attendance is required and I don’t mean in the pure physical sense alone. Showing up both in the office and life is a full time job and although many people struggle with being present both in and out of the office, it’s so important to truly living a powerful and rich life. I know as parent, when I am not “present” my son knows and missing out on these precious moments in his life and development is simply not something I want miss. As a leader, you go to work and show up for your people but are you present? Are you actively engaged (when possible) to be there for them and really listen, watch and understand what’s happening in their world? Sometimes what may feel or be like the smallest gesture for you could show up as the greatest gift to them. Here is an additional article to support you12 Morning Rituals Successful People Add To Their Daily Routine


{ No. SIX }
“When you take the time to open your mind and ears, and actually listen, with humility, to what people have to say, it’s amazing what you can learn.  This is especially true if the people who are doing the talking also happen to be your children.”

  • As a leader: Demonstrating a level of humility will not only make you more successful but ultimately more likable. Lets face it, no one wants to be around arrogance in any form. Although I just mentioned the presence piece – the humility dimension is equally important. Showing up present is great but if you are coming from a place of “I know it all…” or “What can you tell/show me…” then you are ultimately creating a lose-lose scenario. Some of the best ideas in the world have come from the most random people and places. In fact, there are numerous articles out there about how an idea or concept emerged from random conversations amongst leaders and strangers in and out of the workplace. In short, give up thinking you have to know it all because you don’t. Instead, embrace humility and be open to possibility and the various forms it can take such as great ideas from people you might not have expected. Here is an additional article to support youWhy Developing Your Intuition Can Skyrocket Your Career and Leadership Skills

{ No. SEVEN }
“Your children are the greatest gift life will give you. Take time with them, and teach them to have faith in themselves by being a person they can have faith in – a person who listens. Walk the talk. Children have never been perfect at listening to their parents, but they have never failed to imitate them in some way.”

  • As a leader: This is so true, especially the last piece around the way in which people will model your behavior. Sure you are under the microscope and people are watching but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Remember, being a leader doesn’t mean you are supposed to know everything but rather have the ability to figure out “how” to know everything. My four year old son started mimicking all my words and actions as early as one years old and you better believe it’s kept me (and my wife) on our toes ever since. As a leader, every word and action you take will be seen by your board, investors, team and company. I say this not to scare you but rather inspire you to be greater and show some of that humility we just discussed. Some of the most powerful and successful leaders today are the most transparent and hold town halls, Q&A’s, sit in a cube with the masses and are readily accessible to others. Here is an additional article to support youBruce Lee’s 7 Beliefs For A More Productive Life


{ No. EIGHT }
“Parents can only guide by example and put their offspring on the right path, but the final forming of a person’s character and life story lies in their own hands.”

  • As a leader: There is a lot you can do in developing others but in the end, the choice to grow, develop and further ones career is about their desire and commitment to move forward – not just yours. Your job is to create the space and opportunity for them to show up – the rest is up to them. Similar to being a sports trainer, you can motivate another but you won’t being do the pushups for them. The key here is to know when to stop providing those opportunities if the other person is taking advantage of them. Here is an additional article to support you: 22 Traits Successful Managers Demonstrate Through Times of Change


{ No. NINE}
“It’s absolutely impossible to protect your children against disappointment in life.  Some things you just have to live through to learn. One of the best things you can do for your children as they grow is to let go and allow them to do things for themselves, to be strong and responsible, and allow them the freedom to experience things on their own.

  • As a leader: Similar to #8 but understanding when to pull back versus giving up is a big difference. As a parent, I am committed to providing everything and anything I possibly can to the growth, happiness and development of my child. However, part of that looks like knowing when to allow him to fall on his own and get back up, on his own. As much as it hurts to see him stumble or cry, I know it’s part of his journey and growth. The same thing is true with leading others and allowing them the room to fail. Some of the hardest lessons in life have spawned some of the most successful people and inventions (check out 5 Reasons Leaders Should Embrace Failure). Again, your role is to set the stage for others and then allow them to step out in front of the audience and do their thing. They may fail but they may also receive a standing ovation. The challenge for you is to “be with” the journey and know when to step in and add value, guidance and of course leadership. Here is an additional article to support you: Stop Over-Thinking Everything


{ No. TEN}
No matter how great of a job you do parenting – especially if you truly do it right – your children won’t stay with you.  They will eventually break away.  It’s the one job in life, where the better you do, the more rapidly and surely you won’t be needed as often in the long run.

  • As a leader: Your role is to nurture and develop your people. Some would argue that it’s your job to groom your people so that potentially one day they want to assume your role. Being admired, respected and well liked is great and having a loyal team underneath you is an incredible feeling, opportunity and of course responsibility. The reality is that your people will move on in their careers and that’s a good thing. It’s a sign that you did your job and hopefully they will make your proud. I know as a parent I will always be my sons “dad” but the reality is that he too will take off from home one day but I am confident he will be just fine.Here is an additional article to support you: 5 Lessons On Leadership From ‘The Daily Show’s’ Jon Stewart


Final thoughts:
The commonalities between being a leader and being a parent aren’t that hard to see and hopefully after reading this post, the connection is clearer. It doesn’t matter where you work, how much money you make or what car you drive – anyone, whether you are a parent or not can be a leader in life to someone else. Take a look at the 10 areas I talked about here and see where you can improve upon your own leadership skills.

The floor is yours. What do you think makes a great leader or parent?

With leadership,


Not-your-typical Personal and Executive Master Certified Coach.
Joshua Miller is a creative and impactful leader. His career experience has spanned both the advertising world and the world of leadership and organizational development. In advertising, he was responsible in delivering campaign strategies for Fortune 100 companies. Now he innovates and delivers results when supporting executive talent development and change management for the same clients.

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