I love kids.
I don’t have any of my own yet, but hope to sooner rather than later. For some reason, time keeps passing and I keep getting older.
We were able to get some good parenting training in this past month when my five year-old nephew, three year-old niece and one year-old nephew came for a visit from the Westcoast. They are adorable, hilarious and each has their own unique personality. I spend a lot of time playing with them and also observing as they play with each other.
When most people think of toddlers, the first thoughts that come to mind are tantrums, time-outs and total and utter chaos. Yes, they create some of that, but there’s something that kids do better than adults, and that is play. And through that playing, I believe that toddlers have the innate skill sets, understanding and empathy to be better people managers than many of the leaders I’ve encountered during my career.
Here are 4 reasons toddlers make better leaders than adults:
1. They share better
Yes, this often comes with reluctance, but when you get down to it, toddlers are really good at sharing. Whether it is toys, food, space, they know that in order to make and keep friends and earn their trust and respect, sharing is vital.
How many times has your boss withheld information from you because they assumed you didn’t need to know? Or worse, they did so because holding the information gave them an ego-boost like they had more power over you.
When it comes to sharing, we should do like the toddlers do and share freely, without expectations.
2. They are more honest
Out of the mouths of babes spouts pure, unadulterated honesty. It is oh so refreshing, sometimes shocking and often funny. They simply do not hold back. Everyone knows where they stand on matters. There certainly is no politicking done with toddlers, unless of course they are negotiating for ice cream before dinner.
Leaders lie. Sometimes it is with good intentions, sometimes with bad. But even though the truth can sometimes sting, I would rather full transparency than half or none at all. Managers do need to work towards being more forthcoming with information. It will garner them more respect when their team knows exactly where they stand.
3. They are naturally empathetic
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen small children go and pat their little friend on the back because they have a boo-boo. Or to give them a hug when they are sad and reason with them when they are mad. Yes, parenting has certainly influenced this, but children are innately compassionate beings.
When I was in the corporate world, I noticed that leaders rarely asked their staff if they felt better after being off sick for a long period of time. Nor did I see much compassion exhibited when someone had a death in the family.
It is more than possible to stay competitive while also being compassionate. How have leaders lost so much of these traits while climbing the corporate ladder? It’s time to get them back.
4. They are more positive and cheerful
Have you ever come across a small child that is grumpy all the time? Me neither.
Little kids are just so happy! And even the smallest things get them excited! The other day when I was playing with my niece and older nephew, I was tickling them. And for them it was the funniest most novel thing ever that they kept asking me to do it. I got a kick out of it because I barely had to do anything and they just giggled like crazy!
Their positive and cheerful demeanor puts everything in perspective.
How many times have you had a boss that is generally grumpy? Several? Me too.
Bringing a more positive attitude to the workplace will does wonders for motivating teams. If they see the boss is happy to be there, then there must be something to this work thing, right?
In all seriousness, I wouldn’t hand a child the keys to a C-suite. But what I would do is encourage managers to get in touch with their inner toddler, and see how it helps them become better and more efficient leaders.
Photo courtesy of Boston.com
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