Parenting and Leadership

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

I teach about leadership in my day job. It can be a very rewarding experience. I think that sometimes we think of leadership in too narrow a framework. It is what those in power or authority do. Yet, real leadership, the type that inspires, can be practiced by anyone.

As if to make this point, my wife, Sherry, showed our children the courage and commitment of leadership. The story begins with Sherry and four children driving on one of the state highways in our area. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 50MPH. In her rear view mirror, my wife watched as a car approached her minivan at high speed. The driver seemed to be in a great hurry. So much so that she was driving very close to the rear bumper of my Sherry’s minivan.

tailgating 2Sherry became concerned over the safety of the situation so she increased her speed to 60 mph. The person following increased her speed as well so that her car was again extremely close to the rear bumper of my wife’s car. Sherry became anxious for the safety of not only herself and the kids but the driver of the other car.

After a few more tense moments, my wife decided to slow down. At least if the other car was going slower, she thought, the potential for an accident would be less. Not long after Sherry slowed down, the driver of the car behind her passed and went on her way.

My wife was troubled by this situation. As she considered what to do, she had the premonition on where the driver of this car was. She felt she could find her at a near by Wendy’s (how she is able to have hightened intuition will be a topic of future Blog). So she decided to drive to Wendy’s and see if the driver was there. Sure enough as she pulled into the Wendy’s parking lot, the car that had created such potential havoc was parked there. My wife parked her minivan and told the kids she was going to talk to this driver.

imagesNow she didn’t take this lightly. Her insides were rumbling and her legs were shaking. As she was preparing to leave the car, the older boys (10 and 13) were curious about what she would do. In fact, the older one wanted to follow her into Wendy’s to see what would happen. Sherry didn’t think this was such a good idea.

So in she went. There was the driver of the tail gating car filling a container of catsup after receiving her order. Sherry walked over to this young woman and asked her is she realized the danger she had created with her reckless driving. She emphasized that the car she so closely tail gated was filled with four children and that her behavior was simply unacceptable.

I believe this young woman probably was in shock at being so clearly called to accountability for her actions. She had no response to my wife’s entreaty.

How many times are each of us faced with situations where we know we are called to do something courageous to bring attention to something that just isn’t right. Perhaps we are afraid of what the other person will think of us. Perhaps we are afraid of some sort of attack. Whatever our reason, we let the situation slide and never know if someone else may be at the effect of the same situation we experienced.

This simple and courageous act had an impact on the children. They could witness fist hand someone they respect “doing the right thing.”

What about you. Do you have an instance like Sherry’s you would like to share? Do you feel that as a parent you are a leader? Do you act when you know you should?

Until later,


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Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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