Parenting as Leading

Parenting as Leading

December 9, 2016
Susan Hutchison, Director of the Junior School

Leadership is a sensitive balance between vision and management. Effective leaders are able to appreciate the larger context in which they operate. In particular, school leaders balance a vision of societal development and individual student achievement. The management details (timetables, pencils, technology, lists, charts, meetings) are the necessary operations which create the platform for the vision to unfold and engage the commitment of others. Leadership is all about inspiring a shared vision, collaborative teamwork, and encouraging the strengths of each individual to contribute to the success of the whole. A leader’s attitude is everything – the joy and enthusiasm, the diligence and dedication to the work of education and the success of children.

Is it possible that parenting is really all about leadership? Can the family be viewed through the lens of a balance of leadership and management? Parenting children is a complex dance between inspiring a vision for their personal future while managing the details of daily life.
From my perspective as Director of the Junior School, I notice that there seems to be a focus on the day-to-day management tasks of a child’s life – after school activities, homework, lessons, parties, meals, appointments. After all, these details make us feel very satisfied and organized. Moreover, they are the necessary stuff of organizing family members. However, are they the most crucial aspect of being a parent? As a child matures, the detailed management should evolve also. Reflect back on the micromanagement required in the early days of your child’s life. It seemed to be nothing but routines around feeding, sleeping, washing, comforting. It should be possible, by now, to reflect on the big picture of her life and offset some of these management details with a deeper vision.  

Ask yourself about the big picture of being a parent. Think of yourself as contributing to the  beautiful masterpiece – your child. However, only she will create the finished piece and it will take a lifetime! What do I really value for my child? What is the vision for her as she unfolds into young adulthood? It’s more than skills and accomplishments. What hopes and dreams are possible? What kind of person do I hope she will become? Moreover, am I that kind of person? At this moment, let me suggest that the role of modelling is the most powerful parenting tool of all. Your daughter will observe and absorb your core beliefs and attitudes. What messages are you providing?

Lead your daughter into her future with a strong vision; resist the urge to make micromanaging and organizing the essential focus. Build her capacity to journey into adulthood with strong core values and attitudes.

• Have a vision
• Reflect on your deeper messages
• Develop competence in all pursuits
• Build and affirm shared values
• Model joy and hope for the future
• Set an example