A few weeks ago, I wrote about achieving work-life balance as an entrepreneurial or executive mother and discussed how difficult it can be for us to balance our lives to enjoy our children and our jobs.
I realized that not only mothers face these kinds of challenges, but fathers too. It’s hard for many to own a business or lead a team and still have a great relationship with their family, but it doesn’t have to be that hard.
If you think about it, being a leader isn’t a degree you get from some university or other, but it’s a habit you cultivate. And like any habit, it doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to your workplace. Being a leader is a way of life and thinking that you can apply to your home with your children and family. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be a role model for their children?
In our generation, parents spend three times more time with their children than in past generations. In the past, for men to be successful meant spending day and night working to provide their family with everything they needed to be well. Basically, men worked and women took care of the children. But things have changed a lot and now men are much more concerned about spending more time with their children and with their family in general.
Today, for men, being successful is about enjoying their work and family equally, and being a role model who inspires their family and others.
While thinking about all this, it occurred to me that there is no better time to talk about it than today, Father’s Day. Becoming a role model for your children is not something that will stay in your home but is a milestone that will also make you a better leader in your work. Do you follow me? Being a role model for your children also helps you become a role model for your employees and colleagues, while at the same time allowing you to find a balance between your personal and professional life.
If you are one of those men who want to know how things work and try them all at once, you will be asking yourself, “that’s fine, Magali, but how does being a role model for my children make me a better leader? And… how can I start working on this right away?”
Be patient. Just as it is challenging to find a man to have as a role model, it is equally or more challenging to become a role model for others, especially our children.
Now that you know how important it is to be a role model for your children for all other aspects of your life, let’s get down to business: I’m going to show you nine things you can start doing today to work on your leadership and become a man worthy of being admired by his children, colleagues and employees.
Applying what I’m about to show you will make it much easier to achieve a work-life balance as well, so read carefully:
1. Go for your dreams.
I know what you are thinking, this sounds very corny, but it is what it is. When you do things that really matter to you, other people can see it, and your face changes. You can tell when someone is passionate about what they do, and most of the time, when you admire someone, it makes a big difference. Think about ways to combine your current career with your hobbies, or if you need to, think about shifting your career as well.
Being a man who enjoys what he not only makes you better at your job and happier in your life but also sends a powerful message to your children, your family and others: you are willing to pursue what you really want.
2. Develop your self-confidence.
This is very much related to what I just wrote. Start by reviewing the story you tell about yourself. Is there anything you want to change about that story, or is there something about it that’s holding you back? This is the time to rethink your narrative because by doing that you begin to change not only your perception of yourself but the perception that others have of you. In the end, this is the fuel that will boost your self-confidence.
When you show confidence in what you say and do, other people may notice, especially your children. Children are very perceptive of these kinds of energies, especially when they are young. Besides, if we are going to admire someone, the least we look for is a person that has confidence in themselves.
3. Be interested in people.
People admire those who they find interesting. When it comes to your kids, being interesting may seem simple when they’re young, but as they grow up and expand their horizons, they become harder to surprise. It’s the same with all of us.
The best way to be interesting is to be genuinely interested in other people. Notice I didn’t say “interested in things,” but people. Although it is essential to have topics of interest that you are passionate about, what really makes the difference in being a role model is being genuinely interested in others. I don’t mean doing charity work (although that’s great), but a willingness to learn from other people, including your kids.
This shouldn’t be that hard. You can go out with your friends and meet new people to expand your network. Seminars, meetings, and networking events are all valid options. The key is to make real relationships. Not only will you open your horizons, but you will also be more relaxed and confident. This is something that Dale Carnegie explains better in his book if you want to know more.
When you expand your horizons by meeting new people, you will have more tools to face any situation that comes your way with your children, plus you will have more exciting stories to tell them. It all helps when it comes to becoming a man your children look up to.
4. Have a sense of humour.
Generally, kids and teens identify more with people who make conversations enjoyable, and an excellent way to do that is to cultivate a good sense of humour. Of course, you can’t become a comedian overnight, and you can’t be funny in every context of your life either, but a good start is to let your weird and funny side out when you’re around your kids.
5. Learn to separate work from personal matters.
This is very self-explanatory, but it’s so vital that it’s worth saying. To become a role model for your children, the first thing you need to do is to have spaces and moments to share with them and to get to know each other.
This is also when you work more specifically on achieving a work-life balance, which is proven to take care of your mental health.
Define well when you work, when you dedicate time for yourself and when you will share with your children and your family. The idea is not that you have an agenda written in stone that takes away any flexibility, but rather that you begin to keep in mind that you are not only your work and that dedicating yourself to other aspects of your life enriches the experiences that others have with you, including your children.
Think about it – isn’t it easier to admire someone who has a balanced life? Well, that’s what it’s all about, becoming that person who can balance all aspects of their life without sacrificing their happiness. Believe me, your kids are going to thank you for the extra time you’ll spend with them.
6. Involve your children in your work.
Perhaps this is one of the most important tips of all. This is what will possibly make you the man your children will look up to later on.
Your children are curious, even when they grow up. So be open with them about what you do at the office. Exploit the fact that your kids want to know everything around them to feed their imagination. They’ll basically think you’re a superhero if you talk to them about what you like and the importance of your work, no matter what it is.
You can do this in several ways. You can talk to them or take advantage of their stage of asking questions about everything. You can also take them to the office periodically to make them feel more involved in what you do.
It’s crucial that they know what keeps you so busy during the weekdays so that they learn to empathize with you better and they can get excited about your work.
You don’t have to become a bodybuilder or anything, but it’s about embracing a healthier lifestyle.
Today we have no excuses. There are gyms, apps, and YouTube channels to work out at home if that’s your style. Make time for physical activity.
Exercise can reduce stress, complement your meditation, and help you think in different ways and improve your brain’s performance because you are in a very particular state of concentration. But it also makes you healthy and disciplined. If you’ve followed me so far, you know what I’m going to say: it’s easier to admire a healthy, caring and disciplined man than someone who is careless about his health and has little energy.
I have a pro tip for you: if you can organize your schedule, try to work out with your kids. This is not only for mere bonding, but you will also instill habits in them that they will thank you for all their lives.
8. Learn to give positive feedback.
This will help you in all aspects of your life. People are more receptive to positive feedback than destructive criticism. In fact, positive feedback can promote engagement and develop performance on any task for anyone, including your children.
When your children are young, they often have insecurities about what they do or the decisions they make. Any child or young person appreciates constructive comments and good feedback. Remember that the idea is to help them get rid of their anxiety, not make it worse.
Of course, this is not about not pointing out faults or mistakes, but practicing our way of pointing them out. In the end, this habit can be transferred to your work. One of the characteristics of a good leader is to be a great communicator, so learning how to give good feedback will help you level up your leadership skills.
When your children, colleagues or employees are looking for feedback or an opinion on something, you want to be the person they come to, not the one they avoid.
9. Don’t reinforce harmful male stereotypes.
Although your kids might be amazed if you can bench-press 200 pounds, your role as a male role model is to illustrate that men have all kinds of different talents, skills and interests. Since most kids have most likely already been exposed to male stereotypes, find other ways to express yourself to them, especially if you have daughters.
The realities have changed a lot, and the aspects that women today admire in men no longer have much to do with the macho-man image that past generations grew up with.
This is important for having more inclusive workspaces with your teams and colleagues, but it is also essential for you to feel secure in not having to always maintain a facade of traditional manhood to look good for everyone.
I know this is a lot to take in for some men. But don’t feel disoriented or overwhelmed. Although these 9 tips work better when you follow them all, the truth is that you can start to become a role model for your kids by working on one at a time. So you have no excuse for not working on becoming a better man and leader.
Perhaps the hardest part of all this is changing your mindset to be more open to changing some of the things that are keeping you from becoming the man your kids look up to. But it’s nothing you can’t do with commitment.
Applying each of the above tips will also help you better balance your personal and professional life, dedicate yourself to what really matters to you, and lead a happy life – all while leading effectively. You’ll feel satisfaction and pride in knowing you’ve contributed in some way to the healthy development of other human beings (your own children!). Put your efforts into becoming the best male role model you can be.
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About U Diverse’s founder:
Magali Toussaint is the founder of ‘U-Diverse’. She is a certified Talent Acquisition Strategist, an ICF-certified Leadership Consultant, a Career Coach, a Cross-Cultural Trainer, and a Job Search Strategist with an extensive career in Recruitment, HR, Diversity, as well as Education. She has lived and worked in over four countries and speaks French, English, and Dutch fluently. Read More...