One year ago, I became an aunt. Since then, the privilege of being an aunt has given me the unique opportunity to observe and learn from this little infant turned toddler. The aunt role also carries with it, negligible primary-care-giving responsibilities and maximum supplementary-enjoyable responsibilities. This in turn, has enabled me to open my eyes to learning from this adorable child.
I detail below, certain qualities I have observed and relearned from my niece over the past year. These qualities can be extended to children in general and are also very relevant to leadership roles in the professional world. These qualities in no way form an exhaustive list, they only reflect the context in which they were observed.
Any day, children can beat adults hands down in curiosity. My niece incessantly explores every nook and corner of the house and finds new places/objects to enjoy almost on a daily basis.
Children exhibit an insatiable curiosity that constantly fuels their learning which is unfortunately curbed, as they grow up, by adults who cannot satisfy this curiosity. This is the most significant quality leaders need to consciously keep alive within them.
My niece exhibits an uncanny ability of knowing exactly what she wants and what she doesn’t. My own confused mind sometimes finds it difficult to believe, however it is true.
It is very easy to lose focus in the midst of multiple expectations and responsibilities at the workplace. It becomes imperative for leaders to constantly be cognizant of the “true north”.
Following from the previous quality of focus, once she identifies what she wants, the child is relentless in pursuing it. Regardless of how many distractions she encounters (thanks to the adults around her) she goes after what she wants – it is a different matter altogether that what she wants is to scratch the crack in the wall and put the paint chips in her mouth.
Again, it is very easy to lose sight of the goal and stay unwavering while traversing arduous journeys. Essentially leaders need to be perseverant, and constantly so, to achieve their goals – especially the long-term ones.
Once her need is identified, she minces no words (she is yet to speak, by the way) in communicating clearly. Whether it is by crying, pointing, nodding, shaking her head, fidgeting or using her own unique language of single syllables, she makes sure she communicates her need.
Clear and open communication forms the foundation of all relationships, leadership is no exception. Many problems and issues at the workplace can be traced back to lack of clear communication; leaders need to hone this skill and keep it sharpened at all times.
This is the most heart-warming quality I have observed in my niece, she is highly sensitive to the feelings and moods of the people around her – especially her parents. The way she constantly clung to her father for 3 days, when he had fallen down and hurt his leg, tells me that kids certainly have a superb sixth-sense.
In professional environments where results, outcomes, deadlines and targets take utmost priority, sometimes it is natural to forget to be human. I believe that leaders gain utmost respect and credibility when they exhibit this human emotion of being sensitive to the needs of people they work with, even when it is hard to do so.
This learning experience has reaffirmed and strengthened my belief that if only we have open-enough minds and hearts, children have a lot to teach us. All we need to do is learn.
-Dr. Soumyashree S., Co-Founder, President-Research & Development BRAINSTARS