Wednesday, October 22, 2014 · 3:57 a.m.

Good parents make good bosses, plus six ways you can be good at both

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Being a good parent and being a good boss are not entirely different pursuits. (Photo: MGNOnline)

It’s recently occurred to me that running an office, a business, a startup or a team requires the same skillset that makes you a good parent. The skills are transferable because the ingredients are the same—human beings. For all our complexities, we are a rather simple species, needing only a few consistent additives to keep us healthy and flourishing.

Set the standard
People will rise to the bar that you set for them. The bar is set not by what you say, but by how you live. Decide where the bar needs to be, then choose your actions wisely. 

Make everyone contribute
From the dishwasher to the pet-feeder to the garbage-taker-outer, everyone in our house has a job. In our home, if you take up physical space, then you have to give back in some tangible way.

Contributing to others is a powerful motivator. It makes us feel important and relied upon—one of the most powerful catalysts for intrinsic motivation. The same is true for employees. We all want to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves and that our actions matter. 

Quash the whining
There is nothing I hate more than whining. Whether it comes from my 10-year-old son or a 25-year-old employee—I really hate it. I’ve learned to eliminate whining with one word. That word is "nonetheless."

For example, “I know you hate to shut down Minecraft; nonetheless, it’s time for bed.” Or, “I know you think your colleague is a douche; nonetheless, you cannot talk to people that way in this organization.”

A little empathy goes a long way to stop the whining, for both 10-year-olds and 25-year-olds. 

Be the loudest cheerleader
 I love this article on mentorship. The author, Tony Tjan from CueBall, urges readers to be optimistic when it comes to others’ dreams.

“When someone gives you an idea, try to wait just 24 seconds before criticizing it. If you can do that, wait 24 minutes. Then, if you become a Zen master of optimism, you could wait a day, and spend that time thinking about why something actually might work.”

As the one “in charge,” it’s easy to jump in and criticize when an idea is bad or a talent is underdeveloped. Resist that urge. Instead, treat the hopes and dreams of people in your care with a sense of optimistic expectation. Not in a foolhardy, naïve kind of way but rather in an I-believe-in-you one.

Set boundaries
Kids love boundaries. They will never admit this, but they need to know that they are safe, protected and cared about. That’s what boundaries provide. The same is true for your employees. Setting limits and then holding people accountable to them is a sign of care, not punishment.

Bring doughnuts
Who didn’t love it when your dad brought home doughnuts on Saturday morning—just because? The same holds true for employees. Doughnuts will work, but I imagine a six-pack wouldn’t be turned away, either.

Dr. Shelley Prevost is a positive psychologist. She is a partner and director of happiness at Lamp Post Group. Follow her on Twitter @thegladlab. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.

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