If there’s one lesson my children learn from me, I want it to be that life is a series of choices. Every moment represents a choice or a set of choices and every choice has consequences, good or bad. There is always a choice. Throw the toy or not. Eat your dinner or not. Study an extra hour or watch TV. Cave into peer pressure, say no, or remove yourself from the situation. Choices.
My goal with my children is simply to help them keep their choices and the associated consequences visible so that the practice will become second nature to them as they grow up. The hope is that this awareness and discipline will help my kids make better choices that will serve them well in their life. The realization in all of this for me, as a parent, is that my kids are in control of their own choices. No matter how hard I work as a parent, I can’t make their choices for them. I can try, but that doesn’t generally work out too well.
As leaders, our role isn’t all that different. Those who we lead make their own choices. They chose to follow or not. They choose to give you their all or do the bare minimum they can get away with. They chose to believe in you or they chose to doubt you. They chose to complain or they choose to take action to fix the issue. All choices, all made by the individual.
It’s when we start thinking as leaders that we can make choices for others that things start to go wrong. No one likes it when someone else makes a choice for them, particularly when they feel it’s their choice. Leadership isn’t about making choices for others, it’s about helping others to be clear about the choices they make, the consequences involved with those choices and then coaching them on how to make choices that help them get the consequences they desire.