“Daddy, why you were so upset? What’s wrong?”
This question was posed to me by my eldest after I finished a tough conversation with the finance department.
That threw me back to my childhood. When I was in primary school, I didn’t know much about my parents’ work. I knew what their jobs were, but not about their experiences or how they were feeling at the workplace.
The segregation between work and home life was clear; there was no mixture. What happened at work, stayed there; mainly because the culture was like that.
Today, my kids are in primary school, and they know a lot about my typical day at work. Not only our kids are much more involved because parents are sharing more, but also because technology allows continuing work outside the office premises; we can work anywhere and at any time.
The Work From Home phenomenon just hastens the process of blurring the boundaries.
That brings me to the point: you are a role model to your immediate family whenever you are working; there are no hideouts anymore.
Our family is exposed to our behaviour even while we’re wearing the “daddy at work” mantle. No more coping with tasks only at the workplace. Our private place became a workplace. This can be a burden.
On the other hand, this can be a gift. We are present, our kids see us. It is an opportunity to shape our next generation’s point of view about interactions with others: how to articulate our stands, presenting an argument, resolving conflicts, or collaborating with our colleagues.
Back to the conversation with my kid, I sat down and explained to him the situation, and how each stakeholder sees things differently, which can lead to conflicts or misunderstandings. I asked him what he would do if he were me; then, he thought about disagreements with his peers at school and raised ideas on how to meet the middle ground. It was satisfying to get another perspective from a 10 years old boy.
My kids experience my role first hand. I no longer tell a story about my work, I display it, live from the dining area; for me, the phrase – “watch and learn” becomes substantial.
As a manager, the best way to permeate leadership values is by demonstrating them. These days, it’s not only relevant in the workplace, but also at home. By being a manager at home too, I instil management habits to my children.
With that, the phrase “Being a leader is not something you do, it is something you are” is relevant than ever.