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Feb, 2015

Ski tuning. Fatherhood. Intentional Leadership and Hockey Parents

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3 critical leadership principles from life school.

Some human behavior causes me to scratch my head. Especially in the area of leadership. I hope you find this helpful, or a least thought provoking.

This is a big change in content for my blog, so I would really appreciate your comments below to determine if this content is serving you.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic so I can serve you better. My hope is that it really helps you in your leadership in life at home or at work.

Critical Thing 1: You really can do a terrific job, even when you don’t have a clue.

Our kids are growing up and turning out really cool.

I can say with certainty, my wife and I don’t have a clue. Some day’s we’re way too hard on them, other day’s we just look at each other in disbelief. Our default is to listen to what they’re going through, try our very best to treat our kids as individuals, and treat them with respect. And, take life as it happens.

Danny Silk once commented on raising his kids and said, “if my kid comes home with green hair, Shari (his wife) and I consider the bigger picture. Green hair is really no big deal compared to far bigger issues that teenagers face.”

I never forgot that. Green hair may never happen in my house, but I try to put my kids behavior in the bigger context of life.

Most of the significant leadership lessons in my life have been somehow related to what I’ve learned raising our family.

I’m also a big believer in only following people’s advice who have real life experience and success with what they are “preaching” about.

So as a dad, I listen to people who have raised great kids.

As a leader, I listen to people who are and have lead people (and organizations) well. I watch for track record.

I’m not going to implement something in my leadership that is theory.

I need real life, battlefield examples before I implement.

My life is not an experiment, and neither are my kids (or my patients for that matter). I have one shot to do things right, I’m not going to waste it on someone’s theory. I only listen to veterans.

Even though you may not have a clue, there are many people around you that do. Find them.

Follow their lead BUT make sure their recommendations come from real life.

Follow the right people and you will get better results. I bet you’ll even get it right the first time more often than wrong.

Critical Thing 2: Make sure the people you are leading are emotionally equipped for what you are signing them up for.

My daughter is an incredible ski racer. She seems to have no fear, which helps when you are throwing yourself down an ice covered mountain.

But she’s not ready emotionally for all the responsibility her performance is providing her.

Her physical performance has her “out front” of her emotional maturity.

As a simple example, at my daughters age, her coaches expect her to tune her own equipment. She has the physical ability and the time but there is a lot of pressure in getting it right.

If she messes that up, she’s more likely to blow out of the race course. So I still tune her skis. Not because I’m a control freak but because I don’t want her overwhelmed by the pressure.

I’ve made the conscious decision to take the “weight” of getting the equipment right, so she can focus on ripping the course.

But I don’t baby her, her powder skis are all her’s. She’s completely responsible to tune those skis because in the next couple of years she will have the emotionally maturity to handle tuning race ski’s.

I will not deny her the “skill set” to do a good job with equipment that her safety (and life) depends on, no matter what her coaches say she “should” be capable of.

It is absolutely critical that we trust our instincts as parents (and leaders) in the emotional ability/maturity of our kids (or team).

Strategically taking the pressure off — in one area, so my daughter can continue to absorb the pressure that I can’t take for her — race day performance.

In “work” situations, it’s the same. I want my team to succeed and increase their responsibility in step with their emotional maturity.

As adults I know we are “supposed” to be mature enough to handle life’s pressure but it’s been my experience even good people are commonly in situations at work that are beyond their emotional ability.

No matter what the resume (or the team member) say’s.

This may not matter if you manufacture “widgits” but I’m in the “people care” business, and our patient’s lives are in the balance. Not just their “quality of life”, their actual life depends on us getting it right.

That’s a lot of pressure to do things with excellence, and team members sometime get completely out of their emotional league with all that responsibility.

As a team leader, strategically managing this pressure is critical to their emotional development and long term success.

Going slowly here is the difference between a great long term team member that can really help me fulfill my mission in serving my patients OR someone giving me their two week notice “out of the blue”.

Always assess emotional maturity before you give more responsibility to your people. They may have the skill set and be able to perform the task but they may not be able to handle the pressure emotionally. That’s where people can get hurt and your organization suffer.

Critical Thing 3: Not all hockey parents are crazy.

I’m Canadian, so if your reading this in Brazil, just substitute hockey with soccer:)

My son is a hockey player and when people find that we’re “hockey people” they always feel it’s important to tell me their most recent encounter with a crazy dad they saw at the rink.

They never tell me about the great families they meet at the rink.

It’s seems to be the same when you’re expecting. Why do people think you need to hear their version of the horrible birth story?

Like I said, human behavior is puzzling.

Back to hockey parents. I’ve spent hours at the rink and some of the nicest people I’ve met are hockey dad’s. In fact I’ve met way more nice dad’s than crazy dad’s.

My point? 99% of people are incredible. Don’t focus on the 1%.

I know that’s “human nature” but it doesn’t need to be your nature. Resist the draw to focus on the crazies. Focus on the great people and that’s who you’ll attract.

That’s critical thing 3 and it will radically change your circle of friends, business partners, people you spend your time with and ultimately translate into an amazing.

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