Leadership Boot Camp

Here’s a great leadership post by Lily Kreitinger. Lily specializes in helping leadership effectively train team members. Follow Lily on LinkedIn. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.

I’ve been on the leadership track almost as long as I can remember. In fact, my brother and cousins called me “bossy,” and I was. I used to line them up to play school. I was the principal and the teacher, and I told them what to do.

Over the years, my tendency “to boss” worsened, especially when I was in college. I thought I knew everything about child psychology, raising a family and helping children thrive.  I even had a plan to raise perfect children with zero problems.  I bossed around my students’ parents and my brother, who got married and had children before me. Heck, I even told my parents how to improve their marriage.

And then, I tied the knot and had children of my own. That’s when I quickly realized I didn’t know diddlysquat. I had to learn how to be the right kind of boss while on the job. And these new principles that I learned over years of mommy boot camp? They work and can be applied to any kind of leader, whether at a huge company or simply at home with their kids. Here are some tips on how to be a great leader mommy-style.

  • Get to know those you lead personally. No two are the same. What works for one won’t work for the other.
  • Be firm and kind. The way you talk to them will become their inner-voice. Reprimand privately when needed and praise in public when deserved.
  • Identify their language of appreciation. A team member may like a gift card, while another will thrive if they receive a rock star award. Get them backwards, and you’ll embarrass one and frustrate the other.
  • Life is messy. Get used to it and stock up on “wet wipes.”
  • Do what works for you and your team. You can’t follow every single theory word by word.

The most important leadership principle I have learned from motherhood is to love your team unconditionally. Sure, they’ll mess up, you’ll get frustrated with them and they will get frustrated with you.  However, knowing you accept them and are there to help them grow will never be forgotten. Receiving thank you cards, phone calls, visits to the hospital or the funeral home will leave an indelible mark in their life. Love transforms, leading people into a joyful journey.

Question: How have you learned your best leadership lessons?

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43 thoughts on “Leadership Boot Camp”

  1. Kathleen, Kat or Cass

    Beautifully said Lily!!!!! Indeed if the world was full of bosses and employees that can transcend the JOB to serving in LOVE the world would be transformed.
    I have learned some of my leadership skills on top of a horse. Learning to ride hunt seat you learn your horse may have a mind of their own, but look to you to know what to do. They tend to go where your eyes are looking. IF you approach a fence and you are heading straight on but you look at the fence, you very well may end up IN the fence. Life is a lot like that. You may know your path, but what you focus on becomes reality. Employees, horses, students, children- if you focus on the wrong thing, the wrong thing gets multiplied. Have your vision set, be moving forward with intention and never ask for a result you can’t correct down the line.

  2. The best leadership lesson I learned came both in the form of supervisor, and parent. Similar to you Lily, theory is easy. It’s when application comes into play that you realize it’s harder than it looks.

    In the past, it was easy for me to say, “When I have kids, I’ll never let them…blah blah blah.” Or, “If I ever become a manager, I’ll never do….blah blah blah.”

    Well, blah blah blah! I learned the most important lesson in both of those universes. Grace. Mixed with a little humility, and a lot of trust. Your team, and your children, are capable of far more than you think, provided you give them the freedom to shine.

    Thanks for another great post, Lily!

    1. Isn’t it amazing how much we “know” from theory. I’ve had to eat many of my words related to “I would NEVER let my kids blah blah”. Leadership is the same. You can’t learn from theory. You have to experience it.

  3. I’ve learned the most from my bad bosses – I had one who on conference calls would be silly and scatterbrained (I guess to be part of the gang?), that it was hard to take her seriously later. Then my next boss was so biting and sarcastic, I dreaded hearing from her.

    Definitely taught me that there’s a balance of the firm and kind, like you said, Lily.

    Great post!

  4. My grandfather was a stately man – 6’8″, gray steely eyes, deep voice, every word saturated with conviction and a quiet strength few could ignore.

    As a child I witnessed his use of the pause…. to very effectively lead men to lead themselves.

    More often than not words were unnecessary, he simply paused….. spoke with his eyes and his men knew how to respond.

    This has served me well for it is in the pause……. that wisdom emerges.

    1. I think that’s the verbal equivalent of something I learned to do when teaching others how to do something on a computer — I always clasp my hands together behind my back. It reminds me that my job is not to “drive” for them, but to lead them through the process themselves. Get them to go through it themselves so they won’t need me again next time.

      I never mind helping, but I don’t want them to be dependent on me for anything.

  5. I’ll admit that a lot of what I’ve learned about teaching and leading has come from being a father. Some of the best leaders I’ve worked with and for were parents, and they all told me the first thing I needed to do was have kids. I didn’t really understand that advice then, I thought it was life advice, or a kind of “I’m suffering so you should suffer to” kind of advice, but boy do I get it now. 🙂

    1. The level of engagement and accountability is noticeable when leaders act from love and not from other perspectives. Being a parent you don’t get many do-overs. It is the most humbling experience.

  6. Great things to remember! Definitely important to adapt processes to you and your team (as long as values and principles are violated). I think this is one problem that causes people to get frustrated: “The other team does it this way.” I like to say: “Well I’m not the other team.” Sure, learn from them, but it doesn’t mean you have to be their clone.

  7. I really only agree with points 1-5 Lily 🙂

    How have I learned my lessons? Two ways and two ways only:

    1. From incredibly smart (and more experienced) people who for some reason took a liking to me and mentored me.

    2. The hard way. It’s been said that we learn best from failure. That explains why I am such a good learner!

    Great post Lily…love the wet wipes analogy!

  8. I love the line “Life is messy. Get used to it and stock up on wet wipes”! A leader that stands at a distance during the “messy” times in a follower’s life will come off cold and begin to lose their influence.

    1. I completely agree! I have some charge nurses and supervisors that will help us take care of our really sick patients when we are drowning. That makes the staff respect the leaders so much more when they are willing to help out when we need it the most.

  9. In teaching drawing, I’ve learned to show rather than tell. And it is all the most effective when I pay attention to each student personally, asking about their lives, complimenting them on their progress, showing them love. Without those things, they just fade away. It is easier to keep the students I have than to recruit new ones. Besides, I really get attached to them!

  10. So I am 6 hours into a road trip to New York with plenty of time to think.

    Here’s what occurred to me:

    How did I learn how to handle conflict with my wife?
    By yelling at her, being stubborn, telling how wrong she is, insulting her, and generally acting like a child. And finally figuring out that did not work and deciding to change.

    How did I learn to not shoot down people’s ideas immediately?
    By doing so and observing the eye rolls, dejected looks, and once tearful phone call to a spouse afterward. And finally figuring out that did not work and deciding to change.

    How did I learn the proper hiring process?
    By hiring a lot of bad people and then deciding to change that.

    How did I learn how to do one on one meetings? OK that one…that ONE thing I learned from a friend. 🙂

    As much as I wish it wasn’t so, I usually learn things the hard way…and I think I am OK with that.

  11. I have learned that I have to get to know my team members on a more personal basis. I use to think that I had to be more “professional.” As the saying goes, “that won’t know how you know until they know how much you care.”

  12. I’m surprised that the “angry mommy voice” didn’t make the list of leadership lessons.. Haha.

    I think one of the most important leadership lessons I’ve learned from being a parent comes from a scripture “reproving bedtimes with sharpness…and then showing forth an increase of love afterwards towards him whom though hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy”.

    It’s so important that you separate actions from the person and let them know you love them. That you want to see them succeed and be a rockstar!! Great post lily. I wasn’t really gonna boycott it, just a super busy day, 9ish hours of driving, 16 hours total. 🙂

  13. Lily! i have learnt my best leadership lessons from my dad; from the fatherhood he exhibited throughout my life. I am what I am today primarily due to the lessons I learnt from my dad personally.

  14. Lily – what struck me was “…be kind and firm….The way you talk to them will become their inner-voice….”. What a responsibility on the leader this is – that what we say they internalize. That could be an incredible help for the rest of their life – or a tremendous hurt.

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