It’s not often that C-suite leaders get to bring their kids to the office to show them what goes on in the day-to-day. But as working from home has become commonplace, your kids have endless opportunities to see you in action. Whether it’s leading a meeting, setting strategic goals, or simply running business operations, you can show your kids that you do more than talk on the phone or work at a computer all day.
Take advantage of the time at home by teaching your children valuable lessons about what it means to work hard — forming a good work ethic early in childhood has been shown to predict success as an adult. Even if you’re not explicitly relaying every single attribute of a successful professional to your children, you still have the opportunity to model good work habits. For example, you can exhibit what it means to set boundaries, communicate effectively, and handle difficult situations.
Turning a sometimes stressful aspect of the coronavirus pandemic into a learning experience for your children can also benefit you. By making the best of a difficult situation, you can end up boosting your mood — and as many studies have shown, happiness can improve productivity. Talk about a win-win situation.
Lessons to Impart on Your Children
Don’t wait until tomorrow to start teaching your children how to build a strong work ethic. There are plenty of skills you can help them cultivate today to contribute to their future success. Here are three of the best lessons you can teach your kids as you work from home:
- Embracing an entrepreneurial spirit.
Few kids possess the ingenuity to start a business (except for maybe a lemonade stand) on their own. The entrepreneurial spirit, however, is ready and waiting in every last one of them. It’s just up to the parents to bring this trait out — and there’s no one better to teach this than a business leader.
For example, ListenTrust co-founder Craig Handley encourages his children to follow their passions by modeling an entrepreneurial spirit. He regularly brings them to entrepreneurial events and arranges mentorships and internships with other entrepreneurs to introduce his kids to people who have the gumption to create businesses out of their passions.
Experiential learning can certainly help, but focusing on your children’s innate strengths is also beneficial. Let’s say your child has a natural curiosity. Whenever possible, nurture this thirst for knowledge by finding activities that offer a sense of discovery — be it structured, like participating in a science fair, or unstructured, like exploring the natural environment. Allowing children to delve deeper into a topic can encourage their curiosity while feeding that entrepreneurial spirit.
- The importance of delegation.
Many C-suite leaders know that asking for help can be a challenge, especially for people who are self-reliant or uncomfortable appearing vulnerable or weak. But think about the sort of message you’re sending your children when you model that behavior at home. Are you teaching them to overwhelm themselves with tasks and never ask for help? Delegating doesn’t show that you’re weak — it proves that you know how to best use your time.
“Delegation is the most important tool in my arsenal,” said Alison Gutterman, president and CEO of Jelmar (the company behind CLR and Tarn-X cleaning solutions) and mother of two. “I don’t hesitate to delegate tasks to experienced team members, so why shouldn’t I do the same thing at home? Whether my daughters or someone else takes on added responsibilities, the important thing is making room for more together time.”
Modeling delegation while you’re working from home also allows you to teach your children time management and responsibility — two skills that are imperative to building a good work ethic. When you delegate tasks or chores to your kids, they can see that there are consequences for not following through on their commitments. For example, if your daughter doesn’t put her clothes in the wash, she won’t be able to wear her favorite shirt that week.
- Managing stress.
As a company leader, it may be hard to control stress around your children while working from home. According to Lynn Lyons, a social worker and psychotherapist, stress is contagious. Kids have enough stress on their plates without having to deal with your anxiety. Schoolwork, sports, extracurricular activities, and problems with peers are just a few of the stressors that can eventually overwhelm children and lead to emotional, behavioral, and even physical issues.
Show your children how you manage your stress while giving them the tools to manage their own. Teaching them to solve problems is one option. Providing opportunities to plan their days can also help children better respond to stress by giving them a greater sense of control. The same can be said for helping them discern when to accept or decline commitments.
Beyond that, make sure to remind children that it’s okay to make mistakes. No one is perfect, and you can learn a lot from bad decisions — especially how to respond, fix the error, and move on.
Executives are currently in a unique position to teach their kids hands-on lessons on how to develop a good work ethic. Instead of simply telling them how to handle themselves, you can model those habits and show your children how you get the job done each and every day.
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