Last week I got to be a stay at home dad with my four kids while my wife was in Florida cheering on her brother as he competed in his first Ironman. The verdict is still out on which is harder: an Ironman or solo-parenting 4 kids. My hat is off to moms…that’s all I can say.
During my stint as Mr. Mom, I was reminded of a few things…
1. I’m not qualified to style my 7 year old daughter’s Rapunzel length hair.
2. Potty training is harder than it looks.
3. The best way to end a tantrum is to duplicate it.
4. It’s really not that hard to eat an entire box of mac n’ cheese.
5. 2 year olds say “Cuz whhhhhy?” a lot
It is the 5th observation that has stuck with me. My little 2 year old daughter is incredibly curious. She wants to know everything. How does that work? Why do you do that? Why is the sky blue? Why are your teeth yellow? Her thirst for knowledge is insatiable. She has to know everything because she wants to be able to do everything. She wants to do everything her big brothers and sisters do. Her second favorite line is, “NO! I DO IT!” Usually, she is screaming it. She has passion. You have to give her that.
My point in sharing this is that I’ve noticed a striking similarity between great leaders and my 2 year old. Great leaders, like a 2 year old, have an all-consuming vision of what they want to be, or what they want their organization to be. This vision drives their behavior and their language. For my daughter, it is being just like her older siblings. She will do ANYTHING to make this possible. For great leaders, the vision varies, but focusing on the vision is no less important.
Secondly, like a 2 year old, great leaders ask a ridiculous amount of questions. My daughter knows she doesn’t know everything. She unashamedly asks about everything. Often, her questions make her sound pretty dumb, but she doesn’t care in the slightest.
“Daddy, where is Mommy?”
“She’s on an airplane.”
“She’s coming home.”
“Because she wants to see you”
“How about we take a break from asking questions.”
“NO! I DO IT!”
Great leaders ask questions and genuinely listen because great leaders understand that they don’t know everything The are inquisitive because they are so passionate about their vision. Mediocre leaders already know. They aren’t interested because they’ve already figured it out. They are more interested in telling you what they already know and what you don’t know.
If you want to be a great leader, focus on clarifying your vision. Who do you want to be? What do you want your organization to be. Let this vision drive you. Secondly, ask bazillions of questions. Never stop being inquisitive. Never become such an expert that you already know everything. The key to growth is constant learning and the key to constant learning is constantly asking questions. Be like a 2 year old.