Why are parents forgetting to invest time in the most important leadership role of their lives?  By Jenny Vanderhoek

Why are parents forgetting to invest time in the most important leadership role of their lives? By Jenny Vanderhoek

Throughout my last 10 plus years in corporate, I attended minimum 2 leadership courses or conferences a year. I always came back feeling refreshed from the learnings and ready to kick off the next project with some of the newfound skills that I had learnt. When I was pregnant with my kids, I spent a lot of time reading bookings and getting information from new apps about the different milestones of pregnancy and labour. I did this because my doctors, midwives and friends suggested it. After I had kids, I just went into survival mode and even getting through the day was an achievement. I was constantly googling every time my child and I met a new milestone that I didn’t know how to manage yet… tantrums, sharing, biting, fussy eating, hair pulling, whinging- you name it! Once my kids hit toddler age, friends in the same position would often reassure me that the tantrums were just normal, and this was referred to as the ‘terrible twos’ or and was simply a natural progression of growth. What I didn’t recognise, was how much the ‘terrible twos’ affected me. I felt lost very often as to what to do. I was tired, frustrated and felt guilty that I didn’t seem to be nailing this parenting gig. I was worried that my kids behaviour might have been due to my poor parenting. When you talk to other parents about it, you would often get recommendations for books or articles or gurus to follow on social media. However, I must admit, not one of these solutions ever truly resonated with me as...
Sharing the mental load

Sharing the mental load

The concept of mental load was popularised recently by french comic, Emma. Emma, accurately depicts the multiple things we do as parents whilst doing something as simple as inviting a friend over for dinner. Whilst preparing a meal for your friend, you are also ensuring the kids are eating. When they are not, you are encouraging them to eat and in between trying to have a conversation with your friend. Meanwhile, the food boils over and you are now cleaning that up. You get the picture… That’s just ONE dinner. Then add to that the mental load associated with one child: nurturing their hopes and dreams, ensuring they are polite, that they wash their hands, they have a balance of activities and the food they like to eat. Drop off and pick up arrangements from day-care, school and activities. Quality time with grandparents, self-esteem, blossoming friendships, dealing with the kid with mean behaviour in the playground. The list goes on. The mental load increases for more children with differing needs. Contrary to popular belief, it is not only mums that feel the burden of the mental load it is dads too. It is the main carer who often bears the brunt. But what happens when both parents work and both parents are the main carers? Whilst in most families, both parents are working, women are still doing the lion’s share of the work. Census data clearly shows Australian women spend, on average, 5 to 14 hours per week in unpaid domestic work, whereas men spend less than 5 hours a week. Women also spend an additional hour a day looking...
You family vision

You family vision

A strong vision of success is essential to great leadership as a parent. Without a vision, you may have great ideas of how you want your child to be, however without the focus and the discipline on what matters you can get lost in myriad of things you do each day and lose sight of the bigger picture. Without a vision, daily tasks can feel hollow and operational, rather than practical and meaningful. “If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” Steve jobs I recently took my parents through an exercise to create a vision for their family. Whilst myself and my older sibling are very much leaders in our own families, my younger sibling is mentally disabled and is heavily dependant upon my parents. Up until now my parents have been managing the day to day – getting by and dealing with whatever comes up next. However, this is the first time in 40 years they have stepped back and been able to articulate their vision for my brother. In their words this has meant, “Clarity on what needs to be done” “Focus on what matters most, despite the day-to-day things that come up” “A general direction, rather than meandering” “Feeling like we have some control over the future” It is so often easier and more appealing to carry on and just get through the day. Walter Mischel is a researcher and author of the Marshmallow Test, a study carried out on the effects of delayed gratification. If a child was offered a marshmallow immediately...
Imbalance of roles

Imbalance of roles

Census data shows Australian women spend, on average, 5 to 14 hours per week in unpaid domestic work, whereas men spend less than 5 hours a week. Women also spend an additional hour a day looking after children. At an event I was speaking at last night, a mum asked me this question, “I’m working full time and so is my husband, yet I find I’m organizing everything that needs to happen in the home as well as my day job. My husband is involved in picking up and dropping off children and taking them to activities, but the household operation seems to fall to me. We’ve come so far in equality, why are we still experiencing this situation?” It’s a great question and one I hear often. To resolve some of these challenges, working parents look to getting home help, outsourcing household tasks like ironing, cleaning and perhaps sourcing meal services to relieve some of the pressures. However, there is one area that is frequently overlooked that relieves the underlying pressure and addresses this imbalance and it is our unconscious bias. Unconscious bias happens automatically, is outside of our awareness and is triggered by our brain making quick assessments of situations, based on our past experiences, background and culture we grew up in. Unconscious bias has a big role to play in how we are dividing parenting responsibilities. What happens is we see how our parents have done the role and can unconsciously apply the same rules to our parenting today, unless we challenge the bias. Sharon is a client and when we peeled back the layers on...
The No.1 Skill to Parent as a Leader

The No.1 Skill to Parent as a Leader

Whilst some see leadership as a role that heads up an organisation or a department, we as parents equally head up a family and a home – the main difference being we don’t get to leave our leadership role at home at the end of each day, like we can if it were our job outside of the home. There are various styles of leadership, each with different outcomes. The 19th century autocratic style of leadership was one of command and control, dominant in the industrial age to encourage employees to conform and mass produce.  The 20th century authoritarian style of leadership was about creating positive relationships whilst enforcing the rules and was the norm in the information age. As society has evolved so too has parenting and we are now at a major tipping point in parenting styles.   Today, in the 21st century, the age of disruption, the new model of parenting is a leadership parenting style and just like great leadership in organisations is about authenticity, it’s true at home, even more so.   So what then is authenticity and why is it so important in leading children? Authenticity is “representing one’s true nature or beliefs; true to oneself or to the person identified.”  It is when we are authentic, we are at our most creative.  In a report by the Foundation for Young Australians, research indicates that between 2012 and 2015 the demand for creativity in job advertisements increased by 65%. The no. 1 skill to develop authenticity is self awareness. If you find yourself at logger heads with your child, chances are there is something you can...
Parenting as a Leader

Parenting as a Leader

It’s odd to think about parenting as a leadership role and yet anthropologically speaking they are the same.   A leader is… Someone who has followers Has the capacity to translate vision into reality Empowers others And is influentional   A parent is… Someone who has followers (children) Has the capacity to translate vision (of family) into reality Empowers their child Influences their child   If you were a leader in corporate for a moment and not a parent, you would have access to leadership assessments, benchmarks for best practice, leadership development and you would know your leadership style. And yet when it comes to parenting, we find ourselves winging it, eventually settling for a rhythm that works, often over what is best. With good reason..working parents are overwhelmed, inundated from every possible angle and somehow trying to make it all work. With many households commonly needing both parents to be working to cover the costs of a home and raising a family, they find themselves out of the home for long periods of time. If not managed this results in work getting the best of you and family getting what’s left. With working and parenting appearing as they are at odds, we can look to leadership for answers. The best leaders have learnt how to manage the overwhelm of demands placed on them whilst still connecting, empowering and influencing their followers. So what can as working parents learn from great leaders? What I’ve experienced in my own parenting and what we’ve found with our clients is, it’s about developing authenticity.   Parent as Leader Scale      ...