5 things having 5 kids is teaching me about leadership

As I have often noted here, I have five kids. And, having five kids isn’t as hard as you think, except for when it is. Being a dad of five teaches me a lot about leadership. When I think of the things I lead, my family, my company and my nonprofit, leading my kids might be the most challenging, and the most rewarding.

Here are five things having five kids is teaching me about leadership.

  1. It’s about tenacity! A good leader is tenacious, holding to core beliefs and positions and not letting go just because someone is whining to get their way. Let me tell you when five kids are all whining to get their way, being tenacious is tough! But, I have seen the results when people give in to kids (or employees) too easily. I never want to make that mistake.
  2. Energy management is a must! I probably need to think and write about this more as it’s not often talked about. Having five kids to manage takes a lot of energy, and I only have so much. As my kids and companies grow, I’m finding that I have to be careful in how I expend energy and how I replenish it. I have had to learn what drains me and what fills me back up, which is something I never really thought about before. This has lead to some amazing breakthroughs in my productivity and some good habits that will follow me the rest of my life.
  3. When things get stressful, step back. Having five kids in the car all asking you questions at the same time is insane stressful. I have had to learn to step back (or step outside of the car) in those moments when it feels like everyone is coming at me at once. I’m learning the same with my companies, when if feels like everyone is after me, the best thing I can do it step back for a beat, take a breath, collect my thoughts and then re-engage.
  4. Always believe the best. No one sees their kid act up and thinks they are a terrible person. Instead, we assume they are having a bad day or have poor judgment at that moment. I choose to believe the best in all five of my kids, seeing them as wonderful individuals with a lot to contribute to the world. If I can believe the best in my kids (in whom I also see many negative traits daily, see whining example above), I can also choose to believe the best in my team, clients, volunteers, etc. Believing the best in people is one of the best mindsets for leadership that I have ever come across.
  5. Insert fun when possible. One thing I want my kids to remember about me when I’m gone is that I was fun and loving. I want them to know how I feel about them every day and to take that with them as they grow. I also think having fun with the teams I lead is important. It helps us to bond and grow. Doing fun things together helps us to trust one another more and work more cohesively. Fun can be as simple as joking around on a team call or as complex as taking the team to get fencing lessons so we can stab each other (yep, we did that, it was awesome). Either way, inserting fun into the relationship with my kids or with my teams makes me a better leader and a better person.