Naturally at ease ...lesson from young parents

Earlier in the summer, I attended a family reunion to honor two sisters-in-laws in their nineties. It was a small gathering with four generations represented.

Front and center was the youngest family member, ten month old Cara with the biggest blue eyes that melted everyone’s' hearts. Initially fast asleep in her Mother's arms, she quickly became aware there were more interesting things to do than sleep.

Suddenly her daddy was standing in front of me, Cara in arms asking "do you want to hold her?” I was a bit surprised at his offer. I'd met him only once at his wedding three years earlier and wasn't sure if he even remembered my name. Here he was offering me the most precious part of his life, his beautiful daughter. Of course I said yes and Cara was in my arms smiling and grabbing for my sunglasses and necklace. Mom and Dad were not far, but not hovering.

This scene repeated itself as other family members joined the gathering, with daddy sharing the joy of his daughter, offering a chance to hold her to anyone who accepted. Equally amazing was the ease with which Cara would go into anyone's arms.

Being held didn't last long as Cara wanted to be down and moving. Despite the gravel on the ground and the protests of an older dad, mommy put her down in front do her riding toy so she could push it and be on the move. Once again, mom and dad weren't far, but we're giving her enough space to get her footing and “explore", a foot at a time.

In this age of "helicopter" parents, it was refreshing to see these parents so at ease in their new role. If by chance Cara fell and scraped herself, it was a lesson in her young life. Mom and Dan were not paralyzed by thoughts of a little dirt. Somewhere along the way, these two parents must have had good mentoring and role models.

I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be to package this lesson of ease in a new role and share it with new leaders and managers. Caring for employees is similar to caring for children. Empower them, but don't micromanage them. Give them some freedom to learn and grow. Check in frequently and see if they need guidance. If they do, give them the guidance, tools and support they need. If they stumble and fall, provide them with a corrective course do action. Lead them to grow. The Big Book of HR devotes an entire section to employee development, discussing development needs, training, coaching, performance management and having critical conversations.


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