Many of my clients are owners of their own business, and like me, they oftentimes refer to their company as their “baby.” Most use this phrase to denote their sense of love, admiration, and identity with their creation. These leaders are not just running a company, they are nurturing and developing their team as if they’re offspring. Oftentimes, in fact, they are. This is where transitions get even tougher. Many a parent can’t cut the cord. Many an owner can’t either.
Many a parent overly identifies with their offspring and treat the “emerging adults” as if they were teenagers. Many treat their teens as if they were ten. Many treat their ten year olds as if they were toddlers. Many a parent values risk aversion over the opportunity for real growth. Of course we do, we’re talking about our babies. This creates a rather rough, unintended consequence. We create a team of babies who constantly look to the leader instead of developing the ability to look inside themselves. We, as caring leaders, stunt the very growth we’re after from those we love whether it be in work or life.
The greatest leaders throughout history have been able to master a few things consistently. Here’s one. Great leaders create a sense, among their followers, of both community and autonomy. You see, these kinda leaders understand a little something about human nature. Namely that our most primal wiring is to be autonomous while deeply connected to at least a few. We are all wired to belong & become. All humans want to belong to someone, to fit in somewhere, to be a part of something bigger than themselves, and, paradoxically, to become their own man/woman. We deeply desire both. In a very real sense we are all, naturally, a house divided. Only a virtuous second nature can make us whole. Few leaders/parents are strong enough in their CORE to give what’s not been passed from their parents. Sad, but true. This can start to change, with you, friend.
Remember, parents, your greatest creation will always be your children.
No company will test your patience and love as much as these. No company will frustrate and worry you as much as these. No company will bring you more joy and blessedness than these. No company will test your leadership ability as much as these. No company will test your CORE as much as these. And, no company will be harder to transition than transitioning these babies from boys to men/women who are their own and allow you to still, somehow belong. And, no challenge will be more rewarding than living in the chaos with your creations and giving the gift of belonging while getting out of the way of their becoming. Today, during transition practice 47 with a team of real men I respect, we worked on understanding these truths and applying them within our systems. It was good, hard work. Never easy. Bitter and sweet. And, well worth the effort. Good work, men. Good work. Go pass it along.
God, help me become autonomous and in real community. Help me know who I am and where I belong. God, help me understand that all this wiring came from you because you designed us. God, help me belong and become. God, help me pass this gift along. God, give me the wisdom to council wisely those who’ve given me their trust.
God, help me…