Strong AND Supportive leadership is possible.

15 04 2016

“We’re so preoccupied with protecting children from disappointment and discomfort that we’re inadvertently excusing them from growing up.” ~ LZ Granderson

I know some of you will disagree with this child rearing philosophy, but here it is, anyway (we don’t’ need all the same tools in our leadership tool bag):  When my wife was young, she was very shy and timid.  She made a habit of being robbed in Baltimore, because, as she says: “predators saw ‘prey’”.  When our daughter was born, my wife told me that I was absolutely NOT to stop using my foul “Army Language” (or attitude) around the baby (I clean it up a bit in the office) – it was what she fell in love with.  She wanted to raise a daughter who wasn’t shocked by bad language, because the world is full of it.  She also wanted our daughter to participate in martial sports, so we signed her up for Karate (too loud), and fencing (sword fighting – she loved it, and competed regionally).  Now that our daughter is in college (and playing ice hockey!), she says that when the boys try to push her around at parties, and she pushes back… harder.  We raised one tough cookie, and I have no shame in that – but she’s also a leader in college, with a great group of friends who often ask her for advice on life.  I’m a proud papa.  🙂

Raising tough employees is pretty similar.  Strong leaders will give challenging jobs to their employees.  They’ll hand over a tough project with a challenging deadline, and see what comes out.  When it’s done, they’ll give appropriate criticism and guidance, and the next project will be better (and harder).  You can’t coddle your team, or they’ll come to you for help when they have it in themselves to do it, if they just dig.  Yes, you give them your confidence, set boundaries, and speak frankly (but politely) when they aren’t quite as good as you expect.  There’s no shame in helping strong, resilient, tough employees thrive, as long as they (and you) are also polite, honest, understanding, a good listener, and speak kindly.  You CAN be both strong and supportive.

Happy Friday – Go Team!

Speaking of inadvertent…

Praknasaur

Rubes cartoons used with permission. www.rubescartoons.com

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