3 Lessons from Parenting and Leadership

As I have become more experienced as a leader and father I am finding a lot of similarities. There are three important lessons learned from both of these roles.

The first lesson is less is more and simplicity rules. If it is not memorable and a child won’t understand it, then neither would your employees.  If you cannot make your point in just a few words than you do not understand it well enough yet. When someone comes with an idea and tries to indicate it is so complex that most people cannot comprehend it, what they are really saying is “I do not know this well enough to explain it to others.”  Something we have learned in the ages of text messaging, Twitter and search engine marketing is that you need to be able to capture your audience in a few words or you have lost them.  People have always captured messages this way and we failed to realize it. Or maybe we did? When you go back in time we have used themes, formulas, equations, and acronyms to get people to remember what might otherwise be something hard to remember. The general rule of thumb should include, if your children cannot understand it and remember what you want to bring across to your employees then you are not ready to communicate your point.

Second, do not have too many steps or rules.  If you have too many rules it probably means you have the wrong people. If you find yourself creating a lot of rules stop and ask why? What one usually finds it is because they are not making tough people decisions and rules have to be created to compensate. This starts with core values. There should only be four to six values that are essential. These are the ones that if someone consistently violates they will be fired and you will be willing to take a financial hit for. By focusing the organization around 4 to 6 values you increase the likelihood of adherence and you decrease complexity. The same goes with process steps. While there may be many steps to complete a task, there are a few that are the most important to the success or failure to the end result. If you give too many instructions to one person you increase the likelihood of failure.  You have to minimize the number of steps you define for each person to the ones that matter most.

Third, repeat yourself often.  Greg Brenneman, Chairman of CCMP Capital (a large private equity firm with over $12B under management) stated properly to our audience at the Fortune Leadership Summit in Houston, “You should be tired about talking about repeating your business plans over and over again.” This goes with anything you want to have done. You need to repeat yourself daily, weekly and monthly until it what you want to accomplish is done. What gets measured and discussed gets done. You can apply this to include process steps, values, and goals.

One example that I think exemplified this relates to one of my clients in the healthcare industry. They realized that there was one box that their doctors were overlooking on a form. Failure to check the box that ought to be checked was costing millions in reimbursement from insurance companies.  This was occurring because the box was misunderstood and buried in multipage forms. So my client has created a program called “check the box.” Doctors are reminded daily, training was provided, and it is measured and discussed in management meetings. Anyone can remember “check the box.”

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.