I just finished reading a book called, “The Leadership Challenge” by Kouzes and Posner for application toward equipping leaders in the children’s ministry in our church. The book is not a Christian based book, but geared more toward leadership in corporations. The fascinating thing about the book is how its guiding principles would have defined Jesus’s ministry. Basically, it showed that servant leadership was a best practice in corporations. What surprised me was how those principles were also valid to me as a parent!
The authors of this book did not define good leadership with power and authority, so perhaps that is why it resonated so well with me as a Christian parent. If we are good “leaders” for our children, perhaps we can enable them to better succeed in the public school arena.
One of the best practices for good leaders mentioned was “Model the Way”. Leaders should walk the walk and be consistent. Certainly that is something we already know we should do, but perhaps if we consider ourselves as leaders and not just parents, it will help us to remember to do it. Leaders do this by clarifying their values and showing an example. When employees know and accept the values of their company, they can feel motivated to do the work they need to do.
As parents this means we need to know what we believe and why, plus actively and purposely model those values in our homes. Mom and Dad need to live out those values in order to have credibility with their constituents.
Inspire Shared Values
To inspire shared values within a company the authors suggest a leader illustrate his or her vision for the future of the project using colorful word pictures to animate the vision and enlist others to get behind that vision. It doesn’t happen by accident. In order to inspire others toward something, the leader has to have a clear picture of where they are going! Jesus illustrated his points with his parables.
Parents can do this with special analogies and stories that are illustrate their family values, but the first step is to know what exactly are their family values. Your family should have values relating to academic, character, and spiritual areas. If you send your children or “team” off into their jobs (school) with a clear vision of those values, they will be able to stand for them and work toward them even when you are not around. A family can have a “team meeting” to discuss the values that the CEO and COO (mom and dad) have decided to highlight for their “corporation”.
Enable Others to Act
In the work force, you must foster collaboration to create a climate of trust within a team. Everyone needs a job to do, but they need to be equipped to do what is required of them. Leaders can facilitate teamwork and strengthen self-determination with training and positive feedback. Good leaders are like coaches, helping others to use their skills and develop new ones so they can meet their expectations.
Parents can be good leaders if they see themselves in this way. We can’t expect our children to do what they don’t know they are supposed to do, or if they don’t know how. We need to equip them and give them clear expectations. On the other hand, we can expect that our children do what they are capable of doing or things of which they are almost capable of doing. I sometimes find myself taking over organizing their schoolwork, doing their homework, or managing projects for them that they are capable of doing. Instead, I should hold back and only equip where needed and let them do and learn.
Encourage the Heart
It is noted that good leaders reinforce the contributions of their constituents and celebrate victories together. This means that leaders really get to know those under their authority so they can personally find out what motivates them. Then they can recognize their successes in a personal, yet fun way.
Each child is different. As parents, we must know them and find what encourages and motivates each one. Celebrate with their successes in individual, special ways and you’ll see their motivation grow. When they succeed in any way that relates to your family values whether academic, character or spiritually related, appreciate it!
I would love to work for a boss that was this kind of servant leader…oh wait, I do. Jesus modeled the servant leader to us. As parents, we can picture ourselves in that corporate situation if it helps us to practice parenting as a good leader, following Jesus’s example.