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DADS / May ‘2018

Dad: The leader at work but not at home

dad
DADS / MAY ‘2018

Dad: The leader at work but not at home

They say that identifying a leader should be easy. Team members just know. Leadership assessments at the office got me thinking it’s clear who the leader is at home…and it’s certainly not me.

Words GARY AUSBRUCH

I recently participated in a leadership assessment process at work. This involved a self-assessment of how I perceive myself as a leader, and obtaining 360 degree feedback from my boss, peers and staff on my leadership style. It certainly got me doing some self analysis, and in particular thinking about how the results applied to my other role in life – parenthood – and how I would go if a similar assessment was performed on how I’m going.

What makes an effective leader is a difficult concept to put your finger on exactly, but one thing that most team members would say is that it should be very clear who the leader, or the leadership team, is. The leader in our house is certainly clear, but the leadership team beyond her can be a bit murky. Obviously I see myself as the deputy, ready to step up in her absence, but try telling that to two toddlers. Consider the situation when Ella is trying to get Sebastian to do something he doesn’t want to do.

“You’re not the boss,” I tell her firmly. “I know,” she says, “I’m only the second boss after Mummy”.  This type of exchange gives me valuable feedback on how my attempted leadership is perceived.

 

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The leader in our house is certainly clear, but the leadership team beyond her can be a bit murky.

This is further exemplified by a situation that may arise where I’ve been struggling with getting the kids to start or stop something. Tempers are fraying (me), tears are rolling (them, with mine being held back), Timeout has been used to no effect and it’s all going completely pear-shaped. Until, that is, The Omnipotent One walks into the room. All she has to do is imperceptibly raise an eyebrow ever so slightly, and they jump to attention. If she isn’t around, the situation is likely to end up with me getting angry, and then being told by a two year old to go straight to Timeout for swearing.

This respect doesn’t just happen, it’s earned. An effective leader will use their positional power to put some fear into the eyes of their disciples to get them to perform. Sometimes it’s just the threat of me “telling mummy” that can prove effective.

Sometimes it’s just the threat of me “telling mummy” that can prove effective.

But effective leadership requires a balance of competencies, not just Hard Taskmaster.  And this was demonstrated to me in my leadership assessment where some of the competencies around Relating, Caring and Authenticity indicated I had room for improvement.

Take the situation where one of the kids is crying for what appears to me to be over nothing. My initial reaction is to tell them to stop crying for no reason; which generally makes it worse. Learning to take a minute to assess the situation, and decide whether they need emotional support rather than an Earful, has been a hard one to master. Flying off the cuff is a child-like response, while our adult brains should be sufficiently developed enough to assist our children with identifying what the problem is and how it’s making them feel, which then turns off the tears anyway.

The inspirational aspect of leadership though, is one where I feel I may be marked quite well on. It’s important that a leader sets a good example to their team and empowers them to have the confidence to deliver results. I believe Sebastian’s ultra-smooth transition to being toilet trained is solely down to the example I’ve set him by my own actions: proudly announce your intentions to the rest of the house, grab some reading material, enjoy the process, and then hold a feedback session afterwards on how it went.

So I have a feeling that my parental leadership is okay, with some areas for improvement. But to add some factual credence to this, I’ll be issuing my wife and kids with 360 degree feedback survey forms tonight. Armed with this information, who knows, I may even be promoted to second boss soon.

 

It’s important that a leader sets a good example to their team and empowers them to have the confidence to deliver results.

The inspirational aspect of leadership though, is one where I feel I may be marked quite well on. It’s important that a leader sets a good example to their team and empowers them to have the confidence to deliver results. I believe Sebastian’s ultra-smooth transition to being toilet trained is solely down to the example I’ve set him by my own actions: proudly announce your intentions to the rest of the house, grab some reading material, enjoy the process, and then hold a feedback session afterwards on how it went.

So I have a feeling that my parental leadership is okay, with some areas for improvement. But to add some factual credence to this, I’ll be issuing my wife and kids with 360 degree feedback survey forms tonight. Armed with this information, who knows, I may even be promoted to second boss soon.

GARY AUSBRUCH

Gary is a financial controller for a Perth-based mining company. He has had columns published on the challenging subject of the lighter side of accountancy, and has written for SBS TV. He is married to Sue and has two young children, Ella and Sebastian.