Your Family Is a Business: A Must-Have Mindset for Living a Leadership Lifestyle You Can Be Proud Of

Being a leader isn’t easy. Some days you are winning at work, but the stress of it can leave you with very little energy to give to those you love and cherish the most. How do we achieve congruence at home and at work?

Ironically, the answer to finding more energy for your home life is to treat it as you would at work: Think of your family as a business. In doing this, you can achieve the winning results at work and at home to live a leadership lifestyle you can be proud of.

But where to start?

The first thing you need to do is design a set of ideals or beliefs that comprise a vision. Next, think of your mission, which includes the methods of how you will reach your vision as a family.

Two immediate benefits of this are that a mission and a vision give us direction and a common language. Direction helps us stay focused on who we are being, and a common language helps us communicate effectively when we don't know what to say in normal or challenging moments.

For example, prior to having our vision and mission, my go-to retort for mediating sibling rivalry could be a number of reactive responses: “STOP THAT!” “LEAVE YOUR BROTHER ALONE!” “You know better. You are older. Stop it, don't talk to your brother like that.”

Now that we have an articulated mission, I use the language proactively in correction and guidance. Instead of saying, “Stop that!” I say, “Hey, was that kind?” “Were you being respectful?” “Were you being grateful?” “Are you being fun?” Our family mission gives us clarity and direction as a team on who we are and how we agree to behave. Make sure your family’s vision is rooted in your principles and faith for sustainability.

Our family vision is, “We make people happy.” It's short, sweet and simple. Our mission is, “We love God before ourselves, ourselves before others (because we have to give from our overflow and in loving who we are first, we're better able to love others); we're kind, grateful, respectful and fun.”

The mission describes exactly how we are to fulfill the vision of making people happy. If you are wondering how to get started on defining a family vision and mission, grab a pen and a paper and answer the following prompt:

Imagine five years from now your family is being recognized for the Family and Parents of the Year award. This is a huge honor. You are being held in high esteem. The entire town is recognizing you. Why is your family being recognized? What behaviors do you display and practice that are so admirable to others?

Find some quiet time to work on this independently before you begin the activities with your family. You may spend 20 to 30 minutes on this. Remember, your family is a business and requires you to do independent and collective planning. When you are done, answer the following questions:

1. When are we at our worst?
2. When are we at our best?

    After working independently, enlist your family members. Ask everyone to contribute to answer: What makes us a great family? What do you like about being in this family? You can use a whiteboard to collect all responses and synthesize in two to three main options. This can happen over a period of time. It took our family several weeks to complete it. Use a voting mechanism to have everyone choose and agree on their favorite phrases.

    Now comes the fun part.

    With the vision and mission established, you get to promote it and socialize it. The same way that you promote your services and products online and offline to tell people what you do about your business, and how you get them to remember who you're serving, you have to promote and socialize the vision and the mission to your family so it sticks.

    Use T-shirts, posters, jingles, jokes and other creative methods to consciously and unconsciously embed the values.

    The last and most important thing is rewards. What gets rewarded gets repeated. When you give loyal customers in your business rewards, it increases their chance of coming back to you over and over again. The same thing applies to your family. When you see someone using the vision or living out the mission, randomly reward them—and reward them with specific language of what you caught them doing. For example, “I noticed you were being very grateful and you stopped to show thanks and appreciation to your dad for picking you up from school when you could have come home on the bus.” Or you can catch them being kind to someone randomly if that is a part of your family values.

    To sum it up:
    1. Embrace the mindset that your family is a business.
    2. Build a vision and mission statement to create focus, goals and a common language to enhance communication.
    3. Socialize the vision, and reward the good behaviors. 

    Leadership is a lifestyle. It’s not a jacket we get to take on and off. It is who we are and who we are continuously developing into. Taking the time to create some winning structures will help to have more peace, clarity and resilience in the journey.

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    Monique Russell helps leaders and teams go from good to great as confident communicators. She is a professional speaker and inspirational teacher providing effective communication strategies that reduce conflict, improve productivity, and boost the quality of professional and personal relationships. She is the managing partner of Clear Communication Solutions and an Advisory Board member for Leadercast. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more.

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