“I have worked so hard to direct my child how to follow the Lord and instruct them in the ways they should go and they seem to go in the exact opposite direction.” – Frustrated Parent
In the opening chapter of Good to Great Families I introduce God’s model for leadership in the family and example that Christ lived out for us that we can apply in our businesses and with our families. During my work I asked my friend Jim Tomforde, Vice-Chairman Insurance Alliance and outstanding example of leadership and service to his wife Leigh and 2 daughters to comment on leadership styles in the family and I thought his comments on a dark side of leadership to be particularly insightful. Jim commented: “The dark side of leadership, that is the controlling side. Leadership is actually working yourself out of a job, sending others out to surpass what you can do. Far too many, especially in the Church, are all about dictating to others how they should live. When we do this to our children they resent us, they don’t trust us. Children don’t want to disappoint us, so they often follow along with our demands, but there will come a time when they know in their hearts that our leadership is really about controlling their behavior because it serves our needs as the parent. Children need to feel loved for how they are right now not loved for who we wish them to be. Then they will have the freedom to spread their wings and be who God created them to be (often not whom we, as parents may want or even recognize).”
Our children are unique gifts from God that we have the awesome responsibility to love, direct, guide, discipline, nurture and encourage. My 3 kids are all so different. They have different temperaments, interests, and talents. They each respond differently to discipline and each need different styles of leadership. Some want help with their homework and instruction when learning a new skill and others are fiercely independent wanting to learn on their own. In business our employees and teammates respond differently to instruction and need differing leadership styles to help them achieve the greatest success. Some employees require daily interaction, detailed instruction and need lots of affirmation where others need space, perform independently and typically respond well to incentives. In my business and in my family I have made many mistakes trying lead and navigate through the unique personalities, talents and needs of my employees and my family. Jim is so right. Be aware of the dark side of leadership. We must love them for who they are and not who we want them to be. Even though we have the best intentions in mind we must recognize and adapt to the individual circumstances, personalities and dynamics of a growing and maturing child. Prayerfully consider each of your children and how you can love, lead and encourage them to develop the gifts, talents and person that God created them to be.
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.