If You Can’t Lead Your Family, How Can You Lead Your Business?

People often ask me how I have time to practice law, raise a family, run a construction law blog, and then open my book of life and share some lessons here.  Jokingly, I respond, “I simply don’t sleep.

But that’s not really true. I suppose the real answer is that I find the time. You see, lessons in leadership are just as applicable to running a business as they are to raising a family. To me, I often ask myself, “If I can’t lead my family, how can I lead others, whether in a business, a church, a community organization, or other group?”

Most of the following lessons I have learned within my own family, but they equally apply when working with any group of people.  In fact, I would suggest that if you are able to apply these tips to your personal life, it will make it easier to lead others to the water.

  • Leaders are humble. “All great leaders are humble,” says leadership guru John Maxwell. “Instead of talking about their accomplishments, leaders are looking to give the team credit.” In the family setting, this means that you don’t always have to be right with your kids.  You eat the peanut butter and green bean sandwich for your rising chef.  You say sorry when you yell.  You humble yourself for your family.  In business, you lift up others and make it about the team.
  • Leaders are fun. In my family, I tend to be the disciplinarian. However, on most occasions, I am the class family clown.  If the goal of parenting is to reach their heart, then you will not reach it by force, loud words, or through submission.  You will reach it through a giggle or a smile.  Businesses are the same way.  In his book 1001 Ways to Energize Employees (affiliate link), Bob Nelson says that the “power of positive reinforcement” is common sense, but “not common practice in most organizations.” You need to find ways to connect with your group in a fun way, and the rewards will follow.
  • Leaders are forward-thinking.  As a father, I want to make sure that my children are mature and well-adjusted when they leave our protection.  I don’t want to settle for just getting by with a few rules.  I want to envision the challenges that lie ahead and prepare for them.  In business, you should be looking at industry trends and identifying the future problems so that you can develop solutions ahead of time.
  • Leaders are planners. When it comes to family matters, I can only speak on this subject from the wrong point of view (i.e., the failure to plan is a plan to fail).  For family trips, my wife plans our vacations 10 years in advance.  I let the kids know where we are going after we get there, we’ve bought the trinkets and we are on our way home.  While there may be something to “living spontaneously,” a true leader plans … makes lists … organizes details … and develops contingencies. 

While this list could go on, the important take-away is to understand that you have a tremendous opportunity to tear down the walls between your personal life and work life. If you have tension and struggles within your family, I would suspect that you will find the same hurdles in your job arena.

On the other hand, if you can lead your family, you can lead anyone.

Question: What other words do you use to describe leaders? Leaders are ________.

Image: thirtyfootscrew

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