Learn Management by Coaching or Teaching Children
Teaching or coaching children will develop your management skill faster than any other experience you can have. Keep it fun and you'll succeed. Remember that lesson for success with adults, as well.
Simulations (especially playful ones) are great ways to develop a lot of experience with irresistible forces. What could be better than to have fun, meaningful places to test your mettle? Coaching and teaching children provide excellent opportunities.
Prior to doing paid work, most people learn very little about the realities of working for and with others. At work, most initially assume that the problem they should focus on is simply how to get power.
They often think that power allows you to order others to do the right thing, and great results will follow. Many people never outgrow this mistaken perspective, and so they are doomed to having rebellious people around them (whether children, spouses, or coworkers), who resent their attempt to dominate situations.
To avoid this perspective's pitfall, you can quickly learn that progress stems from thoughtful examples, cooperation, and mutual assistance when you work with children. This experience works particularly well with those who are not your own so that you have some emotional distance.
Children who are on a sports team, for example (whether they are girls or boys), usually come out for the fun of it. If you don't believe it, ask each child at the start of the season.
But adults are usually slow to catch on. Adults think about skills and winning. It is true that winning can be more fun than losing. But how can you make the entire experience fun for everyone even when you are not winning?
You'll soon find that letting the children play in ways they want to is a lot more fun for them than anything else. For example, let them play the positions they like in team sports.
You simply have to find lots of ways for them to play that both can be fun and develop their effectiveness. That approach means they will have a better chance of enjoying the experience of increased competence as well.
But be sure not to sacrifice the fun. That's the core. Even when they don't learn very much, give them as much play time as you can. You will then have served them well.
The lessons of this experience can carry over easily into being a parent. Children don't usually just decide randomly to have a bad relationship with their parents. The children usually degrade the relationship as a way to get the parents' attention.
The children know what the parents' hot buttons are, and how to push them. If supportive attention is not forthcoming from the parents, then worse behavior will follow.
Being children, they would also like to have fun at home as well as on the sports field. Play with them. When you are in the car, be silent until they speak. That's a great way to find out what's on their minds.
You'll be glad you did. Everyone can have fun!
Now move on to thinking about the workplace. Adults have many of the same perspectives as children do. They want to have fun, too.
They want to have a supportive relationship with the others in the organization. And they want to have meaning in their lives, as you do in yours.
To be an effective leader in this environment, you need only remember the words of retired general Norman Schwartzkopf, "Be the leader you would like to have." Follow that advice and you can be more successful in your role as an organizational person, as well as a parent, coach, or a volunteer.
Article Tags: Teaching Children
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donald Mitchell is CEO of Mitchell and Company, a strategy and financial consulting firm in Weston, MA. He is coauthor of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. You can find free tips for accomplishing 20 times more by registering at: www.2000percentsolution.com