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Over the past month I have presented to three different groups of parents of athletes on the subject of being a supportive parent. Each time I prepared for these presentations it became more apparent that the approach to being a supportive parent mirrors that of being a trusted leader. Supportive parents and trusted leaders develop and resource their children and people respectively in a number of common areas. Trusted leaders and supportive parents develop problem solving skills, resiliency and the ability to self-advocate in those they are responsible for. There are certainly differences in the process but the goals for the ultimate outcomes are the same. These are the parallels as I see them.


Resiliency- As a leader and a parent we do not want our people to experience failure. This often leads to stepping in to protect them from the mistakes or missteps . As a parent it is usually to protect our children from being disappointed or discouraged, as a manager it may be to protect your business  or even personal interests. The best leaders have empathy but it doesn’t compare with the empathy parents have for their children. None the less resiliency cannot be developed without experiencing failure or adversity. Both parents and leaders must resist the urge to step in and prevent failure, but rather support the process and development that can only come from making mistakes and bouncing back stronger and smarter. Support and resource your children and people to become resilient rather than protecting and sheltering them.

Problem Solving- I believe one of the skills young people today need to develop is problem solving. It goes hand in hand with resiliency development. Growing up we spent all day at the park competing in sports and games with no adult involvement and left to our own devices to make it work. I truly believe this was  the foundation for developing problem solving skills for my generation. We had to solve problems and communicate in order to make it  work every day. We simply may have needed the guy who owned the ball to stay when he got upset or we may have needed to work out situations simply because we needed that person to keep numbers even in a 5v5 game. Problems were worked out face to face and as a group on a daily basis. Capacity was developed as was the ability to collaborate. Parents and leaders must again not step in and solve problems, fight the urge to fix and turn it into providing the support and insights to help them solve their own problems. Empower and resource your children and people to develop the ability to problem solve.

Self-advocate- The final comparison I draw between trusted leaders and supportive parents correlates to resiliency and problem solving. If you develop resiliency and problem solving skills the ability to self-advocate should follow naturally. There are certainly times when you need to advocate for your children and people but not at the expense of them gaining the ability to do it for themselves. Advocating for your children and people should not be done as a means of shielding them from failure or to protect them from facing disappointment. Supporting your people to represent themselves and their ideas will serve them well in every aspect of their lives and serve you as a parent and leader.

The parallels are significant and striking. If you view yourself as a leader to your children and as family to your people you will have an profound impact on those whom you are developing and resourcing to reach their full potential. #supportiveparenting #leadershipdevelopment

Source:  Jim Stagnitta, President of Complete Athlete®360 www.completeathlete360.com