A few months ago I read Ken Blanchard’s the One Minute Manager. In my search for finding a marketing mentor, I stumbled upon this incredible man’s company. They are teaching the world’s top leaders how to develop relationships around them. Hungry for more I hopped on Minnesota’s SELCO library system. You can find just about anything you want to read. I was hungry to study anything and everything this man and his company has published.
One of the books I found was called Leadership and Situational Leadership. This book intrigued me, situational, you mean it can change. One size does not fit all? Their answer is, not at all. There is not even a one size fits all for one person. One person can have variances of the leadership depending on what aspect, skill or situation you are addressing in their life.
As I am learning business leadership, I am also attempting to apply it to my parenting leadership. If I have learned anything, it is that if I have a weakness or strength in one area, it will filter over into every aspect of my life.
The various styles of leadership I am practicing with our kids is directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. As the book suggested, I made sure to communicate this style of leadership with our kids. It is an adjustment for all of us, and I am not getting it right every time. Defining for our kids where they are at with their different skills and the amount of time they need me for their homework, chore(s), packing their suitcase or some other skills they are learning.
An example of this is cookie making (try to guess which level of leadership I used in each of these cookie baking steps). Naomi, one of my seven-year-old twins, loves to bake with me. She loves it for the yummy creations, but she also loves it for the time she can have with me. One of the recipes we have been working on is perfecting chocolate chip cookies.
When we first began this weekly ritual, I would combine the creamed ingredients, and she could whisk together the dry ingredients. It was good practice for her and boosted her confidence. She has a natural ability to measure correctly, efficiently and quickly, but is still developing her reading ability and confidence. Working one-on-one beside me gave her confidence and allowed me to help her further develop her reading ability.
As time went on, I slowly gave her more responsibility while I was still right by her side. She moved into both creaming the liquid ingredients and whisking the dry ingredients. She learned how to multitask while the mixer was creaming and experienced time management. She remained confident because I was right by her side ready to assist and answer any questions she had.
I was available to answer any of her questions, but I became more of a spectator as I sat on the couch, walked her through all of the various measurements she would need and answer any questions she had, but I was more hands off. She remained confident because I had assured her if she needed me I would get up and walk her through the moments she needed me. Naomi was surprised to discover she did not require me to assist her as much as she thought she would.
This week the only help she needed was reminding her of a few words she had forgotten. She followed the instructions and served us hot, delicious, gooey chocolate chip cookies. The next morning she woke up and the first thing out of her mouth was, “Mommy, I made cookies all by myself.”
I cannot wait to see the other situations and tasks she attempts, because of the confidence she gained while making the cookies all by herself. Communication is the key in any leadership situation. Both the leader/mentor and the employee/mentee need to be on the same page as to where the mentee is at in their leadership ability. Let go to early, and their confidence or skill can falter, let go too late, and they feel like you are bossing them around and not offering them support. They get bored and frustrated. Open dialogue to know if the mentee is emotionally ready for the next level is as critical as knowing if they are skillfully ready. If you have developed trust, then sometimes merely asking them to try the next level, with the assurance of being able to go back a level allows confidence to be intact while growing it to the next level as well.
Whether your leadership looks like leading a company or leading your family, the book Leadership and Situational management by Ken Blanchard is a positive, compelling, game-changing book to add to your library. If you would like to know more about The Ken Blanchard Companies, you can find their website here.