Developing Leaders

The Principle: By applying standard business management techniques to parenting, many of the control issues parents face would be eliminated.

Many homes and schools are filled with brilliant boys and girls who are mentally unchallenged and lacking opportunities to demonstrate stewardship. Children often misbehave out of boredom. To instill leadership qualities while meeting this generation’s insatiable appetite for knowledge, considering the following …

Consider Benjamin: The first time I saw Benjamin, he was at the produce counter. As he studied the papayas, he wondered if the bottom-weighted orb would follow the same laws of physics as his baseball. So he experimented with its aerodynamic qualities. Now, he knew. As it hurled past my shopping cart, his mother, two isles over and preoccupied with cantaloupe, called for her son, “BENJAMINNNNNN!”

Twenty minutes later I saw Benjamin again, this time curled up on the bottom shelf in the chip isle. Why did Benjamin build a fortress out of boxes of chips? Why not from canned goods on isle 6? He had already learned that redistributing eight-ounce cans of beans would not be as time-efficient as rearranging the large, lightweight boxes. Benjamin’s time management skills were taking shape. Unfortunately, no one knew.

Consider stewardship: According to Stephen R. Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, there are 2 different kinds of management philosophy or style: gofer delegation and stewardship delegation.

In gofer delegation, management wants the employee to do the task assigned, and only that task. Do this. When it is complete, do that. Initiative is not welcome. Just compliance. The benefit for the employer is that he can maintain total control. The downside for the employer is that each employee’s task must be followed up on, monitored, and approved. This process is time-consuming for the employer and boring for the employee.

Benjamin’s behavior was a product of gofer delegation.

In stewardship delegation, management takes the time to train, teach, and guide each employee. The initial phase takes longer but subsequently, each employee is on his own to do his job in its entirety. Stewardship delegation is focused on results, instead of method. It gives the employee a choice of methods and makes him responsible for the result. Stewardship offers a clear, up front, mutual understanding and commitment regarding expectations. The employee becomes a contributing, innovative, responsible team member. The downside for management is the initial training time and the need to give up control by trusting and having confidence in the employee.

Children want responsibility: Children want to feel important and needed. They want to be contributing members of the family. By receiving real responsibility through training and clear expectations, a child will gain both confidence and experience in making quality decisions. It is important to note that a parent must not assign token tasks designed to keep the child busy. The child must be given REAL authority over specific family needs. (Benjamin needed real authority over some of the grocery selection, reading and choosing what would meet the expectation.) This evolving sense of stewardship will cause the child, when outside of the home, to thrive in circumstances requiring leadership.

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