Recent conversations at work have got me thinking about management and leadership, and as a result re-reading Tribes, by Seth Godin. In it he makes an interesting distinction as he asserts that “managers manage by using the authority the [company] gives them” and that leaders don’t care about official structure and instead “use passion and ideas to lead people.” (pg 22)
In other words: when you manage, you do it out of the authority inherent in your position, and enforce certain rules, structure etc as a result.
When you lead, you prioritize values and creativity, and take initiative fueled by passion and emotional intelligence. You value people over results and the results follow.
And this is why when my kids ask me ‘why’, I never say ‘because I said so’.
I want to model strength, hard work and even obedience, but also flexibility, compassion, and problem solving. I’m constantly working out the why and the how of my decisions as my husband and I run our household of six together, and I try to be honest about the process as our first two get older. When they ask me a real question, I try to give a real answer. It’s not always a good time, but they always get one of two things: an explanation, or permission to ask later when we’ll have more time to talk about it.
Because I believe life is a journey and because I find myself learning new things every day, I cannot position myself as the unquestionable parent, who cannot be questioned. And yet I have been uncertain in this, because surely there must be a line somewhere, and I am currently navigating with my gut. Thus the continual search for a new understanding that will make me better at this parenting thing.
So anyway, I don’t know if I’m articulating this well, but what I want you to know is that I think we can find a new level of everything we are looking for if we see our role as a leader rather than a manager. Yes, we manage the home in many ways, but when it comes to relationships do we interact with our children to accomplish a checklist, or to build character, to make them help with the chores, or to give them a vision for what life is all about?
The main point of Seth’s book is that you, whoever you are, can and must be a leader, and that we need you to lead us. Our world is full of tribes of people with something in common, who need leaders, and that anyone can be a leader so how about you. I love this because I think as moms it seems we are leading nothing and everything at the same time. For those of us who are even on a career ladder, we often feel our values for family will keep us from going anywhere, but when you turn the tables and look at it from the perspective of Tribes, your family is your own mini-tribe and your lifelong mission, and how the corporate world defines anything is not even close to the most important thing. And if you do have a serious (to you) career or a small business, I encourage you to read Tribes and think about what type of leadership role you are meant to have.
Because it’s not titles or rules, or allowance or bedtimes. It’s about taking the initiative to care. To care, to listen, to engage life with purpose, to pursue your values creatively with those you love.
That is the challenge I want to accept, and the journey I want to invite you to join.
How can we take this concept farther? Share any thoughts you have below.
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