More often than not, when we think about leaders, the people who first come to mind are politicians, CEOs or high-profile sports players.

This week, as we celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, it’s a reminder to me that leadership is not just about who we are in the workplace or society.  It’s also about who we are in the home, where we can have the greatest influence of all, through the love that we show and how we act as a role model to our partners and our children.

Joanne Hession, founder of LIFT

The values we expect others to display in the workplace are equally relevant to creating strong and effective relationships at home, and to encouraging other members of our families to have the confidence to fulfil their own potential.

  • Respect

This means having respect for individuals.  When we show proper respect we validate the dignity of others and at the same time we enhance our own dignity and positive influence.  Being respectful of the views and opinions of our family members, regardless of their ‘position’ in the family or their age, means that we encourage our family members to think for themselves and build their confidence to express their own views whilst at the same time allowing others to speak.

  • Listening

Without realising it, we don’t always listen properly to others.  Listening to engage rather than just waiting for others to finish talking is a skill we can and should learn.  We’ve all experienced the frustration of feeling that we aren’t being listened to and therefore that someone has misunderstood our perspective.

  • Empathy & Understanding

We’re never going to always agree with people, especially in a family!  And that’s fine, it’s healthy for us to have and to hear different views and experiences. For example, this can allow us to better understand the potential our children may have and to help them develop that more.

The Importance of Tough Love

Leading in the home also means we demand accountability.  It’s often so much harder in the home to have difficult conversations with others and it’s where, because we know each other so well, we can find ourselves being called out for poor behaviour.  We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘tough love’ and we can start by being accountable to ourselves, not letting our own standards slip below that we expect from others.  And equally, we aren’t doing anyone any favours by not having tough conversations with people who are not living to the values we expect from each other and then bringing a negative influence in to the home.

Perfection is a myth

Don’t get me wrong, none of us are perfect and if we try to be we’ll wear ourselves too thin, put too much pressure on our families.  One of the best lessons I try to share in my house is that we are human, we can and will make mistakes no matter what age we are and that learning from these is part of everyday life.