Parenting and leading, not so different after all

This guest blog comes from our Head of Corporate Marketing and Communications, Bronwen Burton.

I took a moment to pause this morning when chatting to a colleague about what my evening had involved the night before. With a child that’s just entered senior school and determined to complete her homework by herself and my own tendency to want to control everything it has been an interesting time since the start of the new school year in September. Challenges for my daughter sometimes seem overwhelming – wanting to be independent but occasionally being overwhelmed by all that this means in senior school, from changing classrooms for each lesson, to managing her own homework deadlines, to making new friends and trying out new sports, there’s a lot going on in the life of a Year 7 child! And as a parent I want to take the pressure off, step in, solve the problems and lighten her load. But is that really the best way?

I was reflecting on a conversation I’d had with my line manager the previous week where she’d reminded me that the only way for my team to develop is if I step back and let them have the experiential learning for themselves. Letting go rather than trying to hold their hand every step of the way. I like to be in control by nature and it’s not that I don’t have utter faith that my team members could do the job, it’s that I want to help them get there the quickest, and in my view, the best way. My manager reminded me that the best way for me isn’t necessarily the best way for them and for people to learn they have to figure out things for themselves. The team know I’m always around to support them but I need to wait for them to ask for help rather than offer it too early.

The realisation hit me that this was the same with my daughter, just because I might know the best way to design the poster, write the book review, learn the principles of a maths equation, doesn’t mean that stepping in and showing the way before she’s had chance to try and figure it out for herself is right.

Parenting and leading people are both difficult tasks, that we never get right 100% of the time, however the lesson for me is to see things through the eyes of the other person, whether that’s my child or my team member and figure out what will allow them to develop and learn, rather than what would get the job done from my perspective. Thank you to my manager for helping me to have a moment of self-realisation that will hopefully make me a better parent and a better leader.

And just to prove I’ve managed to let go a little here’s my daughter plant cell model created on a cake (all her own work, even taking it out of the oven!)