– Mahatma Gandhi
Sunday was of course Father’s Day here in Australia, and as we celebrated (and thanked) the incredible men in our lives, it got me thinking. As parents, as grandparents, as aunts, uncles, fabulous friends – we are constantly transmitting messages and modelling to our children through our day to day behaviour.
The way we react to each other, the way we walk, the way we talk, the tones of voice we use (and the words!) are being watched and imitated constantly by the leaders of our future. The standards they will be expected to uphold are the ones we are now showing them; and whether it is conscious or unconscious, our behaviour is what they base their understanding of the ‘right thing to do’ on.
At LBDG, one of our golden key threads is to always behave with each other in a way that is collaborative, engaging and thoughtful. And yes, it is easy, because these are women for whom we have admiration, friendship and above all, respect.
Often, through tiredness, stress, the grind of the everyday or just because we are having a bad moment we don’t think to extend this same courtesy to our own children, and the children of our friends and associates.
This is by no means a lecture. I am guilty of it myself; who isn’t? But the old saw ‘little pitchers have big ears’ has stayed extant for a reason. A mental checklist of modelling can be a way to remind ourselves of the way our kids perceive us, and therefore their peers.
- ON THE PHONE: those little ears are listening in! They hear the way we talk to each other, answer the calls to sales reps, how we deal with the dinner time market researcher. If you work from home, the reality is that your child(ren) are a part of that world. What are you teaching them when you roll your eyes and say ‘oh God no’ before answering a call with a fake smile and every appearance of pleasure at hearing from X, Y or Z?
- TIME MANAGEMENT: are you in control of your time, or is it in control of you? Are you always on time, early, or constantly late? What message are you sending?
- WORKING TOGETHER: as tempting as it is to bang your head on the table after a particularly frustrating meeting and sound off about so and so’s inability to find their way out of a wet paper bag, do it within range of the kids (or comment on it afterwards) and they will understand that it’s OK to take out your team members after the fact. This is not about constructive criticism, which is a necessary tool. This is about what you teach them as a leader.
- HOW WE PLAY: so many parents give up hours and hours of their time to referee, score and coach children’s sports. Sounding off at them lets your kids know that’s acceptable behaviour. Next time they hear you, they don’t hear their coach.
- HOW WE RELAX: or in some cases, don’t. When you are sick, do you actually take the time out to stop and let yourself recover, or plug yourself up with Codral and keep going to breaking point? What are you teaching?
When it comes down to it, we are all teachers. It’s up to each and every one of us to sponsor and mentor others in the workplace, to make sure we have that pipeline of future leaders not only up to speed, but up to the code of ethics we want to see continued. And every day, we are similarly helping children to navigate their way through life by giving them models for their behaviour. The question is, I suppose, do we want our children to behave as we do ourselves?
If you ask yourself that question, and you even have to hesitate over the answer…
Then it’s time to teach an older dog some new tricks, as well as the puppies.