I participated in a Mexican stand off in the street the other day. Picture a little sweet girl.... 4 and a half years old... hands on hips, angry face and then suddenly a big foot stomp and ear bursting scream of...."I'm not coming Mummy and you can't make me!!!" Oh God... every parent has been through this and as I grappled with my options, I concluded that the only option right now was going home. I need to respect her AND get her into the car with minimal drama so... the only negotiation move I could make was... me saying...
"Fine. You stay there on the street. I am going to get into the car and go home and have dinner and play with your toys all by myself!" I then turned around and walk to the car without looking back...cringing inside that she may not follow....that she could run onto the road or get snatched by a stranger that might suddenly jump out from the bushes that might spontaneously appear!!!!! So many thoughts of fear, guilt and being perceived as a bad, mean mother swirl though my mind. Despite all that mind chatter, I kept walking.
Then before I could create any more frightening 'what if' scenarios in my head... she went to the next level. She yelled louder and screamed as I kept walking away from her. She realised that I wasn't going to plead, beg or offer any deal. No deal was on the table and Mummy was fed up and walking away. Then... as both of our anxiety levels of separation stretched to its limit, I could hear little feet running and sobbing with cries of muuuuumy, muuuuuuuuuumy..... I got to the car at the same time as her, and as I turned around and knelt down she body splatted against me in a mix of a hug, cuddle, kiss, crush and relief of being reunited. Then after a few minutes of being settling into safety and security of our embrace she pulled back and looked at me and said... "They are my toys, not yours!!!!"
My parenting experiences give me wonderful insights and hacks into business. When managing staff, clients, suppliers and others a leader MUST:
1. Stand firm in their beliefs, values and integrity. Even when the people around you disagree, get upset or don't like what you are doing you MUST hold your ground and stand firm.
2. Realise that most of the time no-one will congratulate or cheer you on in the tough moments. Its up to you to be the grown up and make choices and decisions for the overall best interest of everyone because you are the leader and that's your job!
3. Recognise that people will do things for their own motivation. If you want people to follow you or do something, give them 3 different motives and NEVER assume any one of the motives will be 'the one' because it worked last time. People's priorities, preferences and interests change all the time and giving options creates better engagement, support and long term benefit for all.