Leadership at home: The top 3 ways to divide and conquer

family_of_3Leading a company and leading your family has similarities and differences, but the biggest one is at home, you have your spouse to consider.

There are ways to go about leading your family that will make things go more smoothly for you. Here are three of the top ways I recommend balancing the roles of leadership between spouses:

Subsidiarity and solidarity. The first means in essence that decisions should be made at the smallest and most intimate level. In terms of regular government, this means if a state can make a decision, the federal government should have little say.

At home, this may mean a stay-at-home mom handles on-the-spot discipline with the five-year-old when he hits his little sister. If Mom is essentially running the household, Dad may not have a trump card on the issue as he isn’t knee-deep in the situation. The “wait-’til-your-father-gets-home” threat is not always best.

However, faith might be the one area of exception, as many studies point toward the father having the most influence on future child behavior, children attending church once out of the home, etc. Many studies have been done on this subject, one of which can be found here.

So, top billing goes to who is closest to the situation with a respectful conversation necessary on matters of more far-reaching implications. In this case, I believe general consensus and mutual support of the final decision is essential. This is promoting solidarity, which is very important for children to see in a relationship.

If you believe marriage is a union made by God, then it stands to reason that it is important for the marriage partners to make major decisions together. Parents are the primary educators of their children and what is taught needs to be discussed by both parents, agreed upon and lived out.

boxer_in_a_ring_fightingKeep arguments to a minimum in front of children. I believe in marriage 1+1 can equal 3. It’s critical to be on the same page. This is very difficult and requires effort. Parents should limit the times their kids see them argue, but friendly disagreements can be a good example of how to deal with issues in a logical, respectful manner.

For most parents, setting up some boundaries can be a good thing. Meaning, one spouse is largely in charge of the household while the other is expected to make money outside the house. Sometimes this is all shared, for example, if both spouses work full-time.

Then you could come to an agreement that one is in charge of household stuff while the other is in charge of outside maintenance. But it needs to be a discussion, not just an assumption. I think we all know what can happen when we assume!

Lead by example. The first example is to show how to love your spouse. My oldest daughter, who is 19 and back with us for the summer from college saw an interaction between her mother and me the other day.

My wife, Kate.
My wife, Kate

After my wife left the room she said, “You really love her, don’t you?” And I said, “Of course I do!” It may seem silly to share this, but it’s not. I am certainly not the best example in many respects, but I do love my wife and learned a long time ago that this is the best gift I can give my children.

It promotes a sense of peace and stability when children don’t have to constantly worry about their parents’ relationship with each other.

The more children see good examples of leadership, the more they will exhibit good leadership. Lectures can be effective sometimes. But example is effective at all times.

How are you communicating the big picture to your kids? How are you connecting their behavior today with where they are setting themselves up to go in the future?

What happens when things go wrong? Do you complain? One of the greatest coaches of all time, John Wooden was known for reciting his father’s “two sets of three”– “never lie, never cheat, never steal” and “don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses.”

Doug Kisgen's back cover photoThese are solid leadership principles. When things don’t go as we wanted them to, the best thing to do is to problem-solve. Analyze the situation, ask important questions, and use our powers of logical reasoning to learn what we could have done better.

Although this is not the list to end all lists of complete leadership at home, this is a great start, and will get you well on your way. If you are struggling in one of these areas, get a mentor to help you through it. You can talk to a spiritual director, or you can even reach out to me if you wish at doug@rethinkhappy.com and I will do my best to help you out!

Rethink Happy coverWho is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas. For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available now as an e-book or in paperback!

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