It's About Life

Charles St. John

Bill Daniels, the billionaire "father of the cable TV industry" once said, "Leadership isn't something you leave on your desk at night - it's something you do in all aspects of your life."

Janice, an international bank vice-president and a coaching client of mine, truly exemplified Bill Daniels' thought. Our coaching work initially centered on her role as a leader in her organization and specifically on her LPI feedback. But it became clear rather quickly that the most important, immediate application of our exploration of The Five Practices® was in her personal life with her husband and two young children.

In seeking a better work/life balance, Janice could see that there were problems brewing in her family that, if left unattended, could lead to serious negative consequences for her and her loved ones. She also realized that if these family matters weren't handled they would end up weighing her down and reducing her effectiveness as a leader on the job. She suddenly made the connection that the leadership practices which before she had only thought applied to her work life, in fact applied directly to her family situation.

As she reflected on her family she became aware that they never talked about their values and what was important in how they treated each other (Model the Way). Similarly, they had no vision as a family - no common aspirations to look forward to (Inspire a Shared Vision). Janice knew that if her family was to make needed changes they would have to take a hard look at some long-standing behavior patterns (Challenge the Process). She also observed that she was part of the problem. She mistakenly tried to "do it all" and thus was holding her children back from assuming more responsibility as they grew up (Enable Others to Act). And, while feeling very loving and caring toward her family, she realized that her "busyness" had caused her to begin to take for granted the things that her husband and kids did well. She was forgetting to give the small "thank you's" and hugs that are vital in loving relationships (Encourage the Heart).

Janice understood that The Five Practices couldn't be applied at home the exact way she could apply them at work. She effectively translated them into her personal life and, over a six-month period, was able to make dramatic changes that brought her family together in new ways. She also gained insights and energy that made her a more effective leader on the job. She commented, "I used to think of leadership as something I did at work. Now I realize that it's about life. I'm a leader in all of my life."

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