Many parallels exist between running a household with children and running a company. Although fatherhood is a more important job than any career, you can learn a thing or two about parenting by observing the habits of successful business leaders. Here are some key similarities between home and business management that can help you become a better father.
Perhaps the greatest parallel between parenting and running a business is resource allocation. You must think strategically about managing your time, money and labor:
- Time: Plan each week in advance so there are no scheduling conflicts. Establish morning and evening routines so everyone gets out the door and goes to bed on time. Strike a balance of screen and outside time to ensure proper mental, physical and social development.
- Money: Set a weekly or monthly spending budget and stick to it as best you can. Put your foot down when buying the kids treats and toys. If you want to give them an allowance, agree on a reasonable number and don’t give them any more.
- Labor: Delegate chores fairly and offer rewards or “bonuses” for a job well done. Identify which tasks each family member enjoys and excels at so you can put them in the best position to succeed.
In my experience, setting a formal resource allocation policy was an effective approach. Everyone in the house knew their roles and there was rarely any confusion. This can be something as simple as a family calendar with instructions slapped on the refrigerator. Efficient administration will turn your home from a cluttered mess into a well-oiled machine.
Every business has a mission statement with a set of values, and so should every household. Helping your kids cultivate positive mental habits lays the moral foundation for the rest of their lives. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of parenting that you forget to teach them important life lessons.
What is your family all about? What principles do you want your children to live by? How will these principles set them up for future success? Business leaders grapple with these questions about their employees daily, and you should do the same for your kids.
The best way to enforce your mission is to lead them by example. Whether you’re overseeing a family or a crew, they need to see you demonstrate these values in action. Proactive leadership increases productivity in the workplace and will similarly improve your family’s moral development at home.
Work-life balance is among the top priorities for employees today and should also be a top priority in your household. Although it’s important to instill discipline and a strong work ethic in your children, they still need time to explore their own interests and grow as individuals. You can’t be a no-nonsense father all the time. Some nonsense here and there is actually a good thing.
A balance of work and play is essential for kids of all ages. It helps them develop many important social skills, including emotional regulation, communication with peers, cognitive functioning and executive functioning. Most importantly, it strengthens your family bond. I’ve found that playtime often presents the best opportunities to lead by example and teach my kids life skills, which helps to enforce the mission statement your household needs.
Speaking of teaching life skills, your house should have an ongoing learning program similar to those that businesses provide to employees. You don’t have to homeschool your kids — although homeschooling can be a great form of education if you have the resources — but you should at least make time for some organized lessons or team-building activities.
Some great learning opportunities I’ve put into practice include money management, proper table etiquette, eating healthy, speaking in public and using different tools. Kids will learn some of these things through experience, but sometimes, a formal lesson is necessary to drive home the main points and solidify good behaviors.
Frequent meetings are crucial for keeping businesses on the same page, especially between different departments. Your family should hold regular gatherings for the same reason. Keeping tabs on your children’s academic performance, extracurricular activities, social lives and personal issues is impossible without checking in and having open conversations.
Family meetings can be simple discussions at the dinner table or in the living room. Your kids are more likely to open up in a relaxed environment, especially when discussing sensitive topics like puberty and substance abuse. You need to have these talks eventually, and holding regular meetings will make them less awkward for everyone.
Every business has a human resources department that solves workplace conflicts. Parents are the HR department of their household, which means they must be open to hearing all sides of the issue. There’s no room for playing favorites or cutting corners when it comes to effective conflict resolution.
I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t feel like breaking up a fight. Sometimes it seems easier to let them duke it out and solve the conflict on their own, but parents ultimately know it’s their responsibility. As always, I step in and play the intermediary role. It’s a thankless job, but it’s one of the most important parts of running a household or a business.
Parents Can Learn From Business Leaders
Parents have the most important jobs in the world — raising the next generation. Business leaders also play key roles in preparing workers for success in their respective industries.
Parents running a household can learn many valuable lessons from business leaders despite being in vastly different environments. The greatest include resource allocation, instilling a value system, establishing work-life balance, promoting ongoing learning, having open communication and dealing with internal conflicts. Implement them in your own home and see what a difference it makes.