Raising Leaders
Wendy Born

Raising Leaders - Book Summary

Using the principles of parenting at work to become a great leader and create great leaders

Duration: 25:11
Release Date: April 1, 2024
Book Author: Wendy Born
Category: Management & Leadership
Duration: 25:11
Release Date: April 1, 2024
Book Author: Wendy Born
Category: Management & Leadership

In this episode of 20 Minute Books, we dive into "Raising Leaders," a compelling read that explores the intricate art of leadership in the modern world. Published in 2020, this book draws fascinating parallels between the nurturing of strong, independent children and the cultivation of successful, productive teams in the workplace. Wendy Born, the author, brings to the table over twenty-five years of experience in business development and management. Her expertise in coaching leaders across various sectors, combined with her academic prowess as a Harvard Kennedy School graduate, positions her perfectly to discuss leadership dynamics. "The Languages of Leadership" is another notable work by Born, further cementing her authority on the subject.

"Raising Leaders" is more than just another leadership book; it is a guide for anyone who finds themselves at the crossroads of personal and professional development—be it new parents looking for positive ways to influence their children's futures, business leaders stepping into new roles, or forward-thinkers keen on shaping the next generation of leaders. Join us as we delve into the strategies and insights Wendy Born offers, making leadership a tangible and achievable goal for everyone.

Navigating the Playroom and the Boardroom: A Unified Approach to Leadership

In a world where children oscillate between the playroom and the classroom, and adults between the breakroom and the boardroom, it's intriguing to witness the overlapping spheres of parenting and corporate leadership. It's an unconventional comparison, yet, it unveils a profound truth: the core principles of leading effectively apply universally — whether you're raising a child or managing a team.

Drawing from the rich tapestry of her personal journey through family life and a sterling 25-year career in leadership coaching, Wendy Born introduces a blend of storytelling and practical advice aimed at fostering leadership skills that shine both at home and in the workplace. Her insights serve as a beacon for those navigating the intricacies of parenting and management, illuminating the shared skills required to excel in these seemingly distinct realms.

As you dive into this exploration, you'll uncover intriguing parallels between an office and a classroom, understand why the principles of judo find relevance in educational settings, and discover the leadership qualities that make Queen Elizabeth a paragon of excellence. Each narrative and lesson combined offers a modern guide to molding leaders of tomorrow, crafted for anyone keen on mastering the art of leadership across all walks of life.

Unveiling the Shared Stresses of Parenthood and Leadership

Imagine this: after a day that feels like a marathon, you finally hit the bed, craving the solace of sleep. Just as you drift off, a familiar cry pierces the silence. It's your child, and your rest is over before it truly began. This nocturnal dance is a rite of passage for new parents, a relentless cycle that Wendy Born, a seasoned leadership expert, knows all too well. The arrival of her first child plunged her into a whirlpool of challenges, characterized by feelings of isolation and overwhelm — emotions that she realized were not unique to parenting but were also deeply familiar within the realm of new managers.

The cornerstone of this journey lies in understanding that parenting and management are interwoven with similar stresses.

The early stages of raising a child are fraught with unpredictability and emotional highs and lows, a sentiment echoed in the corporate world where managing a team can often mirror the challenges of parenting. The fundamental difference is the permanency of parenting — it's a commitment from which there's no clocking out. It's hardly surprising, then, that a staggering number of individuals report experiencing significant stress.

Yet, beneath the veil of these challenges lies a rich tapestry of rewards, accessible through a lens of empathy and compassion. A study by the Harvard Business Review reveals an enlightening statistic: CEOs who lead with compassion outshine their counterparts by an impressive 500 percent. The essence of cultivating such compassion revolves around three kinds of "sight": insight, the deep understanding of one's actions; plain sight, recognizing what's within one’s control; and foresight, the clarity of long-term objectives and their ultimate purpose.

Embarking on a journey to develop these perspectives can begin with a simple daily ritual: dedicating fifteen minutes for quiet reflection on your actions, aspirations, and how they align. This practice not only promises to ground you but also serves as a compass, guiding you through the dual landscapes of home and work with grace.

Mastering the Art of Leadership in Parenting and Beyond

In the midst of a tumultuous 2019, Queen Elizabeth II showcased an unparalleled mastery of leadership. Faced with a series of personal and public crises—from a vehicular mishap involving her husband to a bribery scandal implicating her granddaughter, and the revelation of her son Prince Andrew's contentious associations—she remained the epitome of grace and composure. Her adept handling of these situations underscores a profound truth: exceptional leaders and parents share a common skill set, balancing bold action with a generous spirit.

This narrative brings to light a fundamental lesson: success in leadership, whether in the realm of parenting or steering a country, hinges on nurturing five core leadership areas.

These dimensions aren't just theoretical—they're practical pillars that, when cultivated, can elevate anyone's leadership prowess, regardless of the setting.

At the heart of effective leadership is love. This unconditional care, marked by compassion, sacrifice, and a willingness to support and forgive, sets the tone for meaningful relationships, be it with children or team members.

The atmosphere that one cultivates is equally critical. An environment that champions free expression while outlining clear accountability expectations fosters a culture of empowerment and clarity. Both at home and in the office, setting the stage for others to experiment and learn from their successes and failures is paramount.

Health, in its holistic sense, encompasses the physical and mental well-being essential for people to thrive. For parents, ensuring their children have access to nutritious meals and ample physical activity is a priority. In a professional context, promoting a balanced work-life dynamic is crucial for sustaining employee wellness.

Language serves as a powerful tool in shaping perceptions and behaviors. The words that leaders and parents choose can significantly influence the attitudes and actions of those they guide. Encouragement and positive reinforcement breed a nurturing environment that supports growth.

Lastly, a shared vision binds together a family or a team, fostering a sense of unity and purpose. When individuals are aligned with common goals and dreams, they are more likely to collaborate effectively and achieve collective success.

Understanding and applying these five leadership areas can transform anyone's approach to parenting or managing, guiding them towards more fruitful and fulfilling interactions with those they lead. As we delve deeper into each domain, we uncover actionable strategies to bring these principles to life, paving the way for more resilient and cohesive family and work environments.

Embracing Love and Support in Nurturing Excellence

Consider Gerald, a six-year-old whirlwind of intelligence and exuberance, yet plagued by aggressive tendencies that often manifest in tantrums and confrontations. His journey began tumultuously, with early expulsions from school due to his volatile behavior and equally challenging dynamics at home. But through it all, his parents remained steadfast, countering his outbursts with unwavering patience, understanding, and love. Their commitment to supporting Gerald through thick and thin eventually led to a transformation, proving that unconditional love can indeed pave the way for profound change.

This narrative brings us to a universal truth: individuals thrive under a canopy of consistent love and support.

Gerald's story illuminates the pivotal role of unwavering affection in parenting, underscoring that the same principles of love greatly benefit organizational leadership. But what form does love take in a professional setting? The ancient Greeks identified several expressions of love, among them eros (romantic love), ludus (playful love), and mania (obsessive love) — none of which suit the workplace. However, pragma, defined by mutual respect, deep connection, and trust, fits perfectly within professional realms as an embodiment of leadership love.

Leaders can nurture pragmatic love by striving to understand their team's unique needs and concerns, complemented by giving heartfelt feedback that underscores appreciation and guidance. The significance of such relational dynamics cannot be overstated. A comprehensive study conducted by Towers Watson in 2012, encompassing 32,000 employees worldwide, pinpointed that feeling valued and appreciated by one’s supervisor was the paramount driver of employee performance.

This principle is not merely theoretical but has real-world applications, as illustrated by the story of David, a colleague of Born. David once made a costly mistake, jeopardizing $90,000 due to a clerical error. Instead of responding with criticism, David's supervisor chose a path of constructive dialogue and support, laying out ways to prevent future mishaps. This approach not only enabled David to refine his processes but also contributed to him generating millions in profit for the company thereafter — a testament to the transformative power of pragmatic love in action.

Gerald's transformation and David's redemption story both underscore a crucial insight: whether in the familial sphere or the corporate domain, love and support stand as the bedrock of human potential, inspiring individuals to transcend their limitations and achieve greatness.

Cultivating a Space Where Potential Flourishes

Picture a place buzzing with vibrancy, where rooms burst with light and color, walls adorned with motivational posters celebrating values like care, respect, and perseverance. In this space, individuals engage in their tasks with palpable enthusiasm. This isn't the latest in vogue coworking spaces but Parkhill Primary School, a testament to the profound impact of cultivating an optimal environment for growth and creativity. However, the school's success transcends its physical aesthetics; it's the nurturing atmosphere, where every student feels respected and inspired, that truly makes the difference.

This example serves as a compelling blueprint for modern workplaces aiming to unlock the full potential of their teams.

The essential insight is this: open and open-minded environments are pivotal for enabling individuals to reach their heights of achievement.

No matter the inherent talent or dedication an individual possesses, thriving is immensely challenging in suboptimal conditions. Conversely, individuals facing difficulties can often excel when provided with the appropriate support structure. Effective leadership is about crafting a work environment that not only accommodates but also enhances everyone's capacity to produce their best work. This involves fostering a space where openness is celebrated, and success and accountability are clearly defined.

But what does an ideal work environment entail? Significantly, it involves creating a psychologically safe space where individuals feel confident to voice their ideas and concerns without fear of judgement or backlash. Research from North Carolina University underscores that people exhibit the highest levels of performance and innovation in environments where they experience this form of psychological safety.

Leaders can champion this ethos by leading by example — promoting transparency and encouraging dialogue. For instance, the financial management company Workday organizes weekly forums allowing employees to voice feedback directly affecting their daily work experiences and career aspirations. This initiative has not only elevated Workday's organizational culture but also secured its spot among Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Furthermore, clarity in expectations is vital. Leaders can achieve this by setting SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely — providing a clear roadmap for success. This combination of psychological safety and clear, attainable objectives cultivates an environment ripe for exceptional performance across any endeavor.

The Cornerstone of Leadership: Championing Health and Wellness

Imagine Harry, a vibrant young boy filled to the brim with untapped energy, struggling to sit still and focus in a conventional classroom setting. His academic journey seemed fraught with insurmountable challenges until he discovered the transformative power of judo at the Frank Dando Sports Academy. This unique educational environment, tailored to accommodate diverse learning needs, integrates physical activity, notably an hour of judo each morning, into its curriculum. Such an approach not only alleviates aggression but also harnesses the students' boundless energy, preparing them to engage more effectively with their academic tasks.

This narrative crystallizes a pivotal insight: Effective leadership fundamentally recognizes the importance of nurturing physical and mental health.

The Frank Dando Sports Academy exemplifies this philosophy by promoting a holistic approach to well-being. Its students are encouraged to indulge in varied physical activities and adopt healthier dietary habits, alongside developing skills to manage emotional challenges proficiently.

The lessons gleaned from this educational model hold profound implications for workplace leadership. A plethora of research underscores the tangible benefits of prioritizing health optimization within professional settings. For instance, a study by the University of California highlighted remarkable gains in productivity, to the tune of approximately $2,500 per employee, within businesses that implemented wellness initiatives encouraging healthy lifestyle choices and regular physical activity.

However, physical well-being is merely one facet of the equation; mental health is equally critical. Often, workplaces suffer under the weight of unrealistic expectations and deadlines, with such pressures spawning a host of detrimental outcomes including elevated stress levels, increased error rates, and higher incidences of accidents. Data from Gallup reveal that environments marked by such stress-inducing leadership experiences a notable uptick in workplace mishaps and errors.

What steps, then, can leaders undertake to champion well-being effectively? Initiatives can range from practical changes — such as the provision of standing desks, conducting meetings outdoors, or encouraging periodic breaks for physical activity — to more compassionate strategies like allowing exhausted employees to take a rest day. Embracing such measures not only fosters a more productive and harmonious work environment but also underscores the leader’s commitment to their team’s holistic well-being, setting a foundation for sustainable success.

The Power of Language in Leadership: Lessons from Jacinda Ardern

At the age of 37, upon her election as Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern not only shattered age and gender stereotypes but also set a new standard for compassionate leadership. Facing the myriad challenges that accompany the role of a head of state, Ardern demonstrated a remarkable ability to connect, guide, and heal—qualities that came to the forefront in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack on the country's Muslim community. In an emblematic moment of unity and peace, she addressed the Parliament with “as-salaam alaikum,” a poignant example of how language can bridge divides and offer solace in times of despair.

This incident underscores a crucial lesson: the essence of leadership lies in the ability to effectively use language to navigate, inspire, and forge partnerships.

Language in leadership transcends mere verbal communication; it encompasses the tone of voice, the exhibition of core values, and the actions undertaken. Six pivotal attributes define the language of an exemplary leader: courage, strength, engineering, abdication, trust, and vulnerability.

Courage and strength are universally acknowledged virtues, representing the resolve to advocate for what is just and to persevere in the pursuit of one's convictions. However, the significance of the language of engineering, abdication, and vulnerability paint a more nuanced picture of leadership. Engineering speaks to the analytical aspect of leadership — the ability to dissect complex scenarios and identify the most effective interventions. On the other hand, abdication and vulnerability are about humility and empowerment: recognizing when to relinquish control to those better suited for specific tasks and being open to learning and personal growth.

Cultivating the language of leadership is an ongoing journey that requires introspection, practice, and adaptability. One practical method to hone these skills is through role-playing. Engaging in simulated dialogues or scenarios that challenge one's ability to employ these six attributes can significantly deepen one's understanding and efficacy in using language as a tool for leadership. This technique is versatile, offering value in both professional environments among colleagues and in more personal settings, such as with family members, thereby fostering a comprehensive approach to leadership that resonates across all areas of life.

Charting the Course: The Essence of Visionary Leadership

Imagine embarking on a life-changing journey without a map. That is the challenge faced by those lacking a clear vision. Take Andrew, for instance, who, upon embracing fatherhood, resolved to shield his daughters from the financial hardships he witnessed during his own upbringing. Guided by the lessons from his past, he embarked on a mission to equip them with financial savvy from a tender age. His efforts bore fruit, with each daughter stepping into adulthood with the financial independence to purchase their own home. The secret to Andrew's parental success? A well-defined vision coupled with a strategic plan to realize it.

This narrative brings us to a pivotal realization: a vision is indispensable for effective leadership.

Foundationally, crafting a vision involves understanding your ultimate goal - your purpose - and devising a plan to navigate the path towards achieving it. Andrew's purpose was crystal clear: to raise daughters who were self-reliant and financially literate. He then meticulously strategized to instill these values from an early age.

Regrettably, the clarity that underpinned Andrew's vision is often absent in both parental and corporate realms. A staggering observation from Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workplace report underscores this gap, noting that only 22 percent of employees feel that their leaders have articulated a clear direction. The repercussions of this vision vacuum can range from a workforce that is disengaged and listless to one that inadvertently works at odds with the organization's objectives.

Contrastingly, Patagonia exemplifies the power of a cogent vision. This outdoor clothing brand has set forth an ambitious goal: to deliver exceptional products while simultaneously minimizing harm to people and the planet. To realize this vision, Patagonia meticulously executes a strategy founded on sustainability and ethical labor practices, from creating durable, repairable products to supporting factories that ensure safe and equitable working conditions.

Identifying and articulating your purpose is no small feat, yet it is an endeavor of critical importance. It begins with introspection, urging you to delve into the core “why” questions that probe the essence of your aspirations and methods. While some answers may surface with ease, others may prompt deeper reflection. However, engaging thoroughly with this process is the key to unlocking the clarity and insight necessary for visionary leadership, paving the way for purposeful direction and impactful outcomes.

Concluding Insights: Bridging Leadership in Parenting and Management

The essence of leadership transcends the boundaries between the personal domain of parenting and the professional world of management, revealing a shared foundation of core competencies. Both arenas demand a profound commitment to nurturing, guidance, and vision. Good leaders, whether they are shaping young lives at home or steering the course of a team in the workplace, stand out by cultivating environments rooted in love and support, fostering open-mindedness, and meticulously sculpting and disseminating a persuasive vision for the future. While the path to exemplary leadership in these contexts is fraught with challenges, a wealth of insights can be gleaned from observing the practices of venerable leaders across various spheres — from monarchs and political figures to everyday parents and mentors. By embracing these learnings, aspiring leaders can chart a course towards more effective, compassionate, and visionary leadership.

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