Aug 20

Kissing Your Kids Good Night

David Pilarek
David Pilarek is an Inhouse Consultant at Merck KGaA.

When I was invited to contribute to this blog, I really wondered: Two most senior managers with years of experience in leadership positions writing this blog – where could I add a new perspective, as a rather young manager with few years experience in leading a small team?

Maybe it can be the perspective of one who is making his first steps in learning to lead (assuming leadership is not only a gift, but also something one can learn). So I reflected on ideas, tips, etc. I received over the last two or three years when discussing leadership issues. Surprisingly, the most striking words on leadership did not come from one of my managers or mentors, but from a management coach.

I attended a program for “Emerging Leaders” about two years ago. The second session started with three days on “leadership skills” and I did not really expect too much. Frankly, I believed I would recieve nothing else, but a lengthy presentation on all those skills, dos and donts, etc. one can read in business books every day. Far from it! Gerald Hüsch from Boston Business School / St. Gallen took us on a three days journey through all facets of leadership and left me with the idea: “Leading people can be fun! It is a challenging, but also rewarding job. And it is an everyday task!”.

What I remember most, and what I consider as (one) definition of caring leadership are his words on reliability and commitment. “A true leader has to keep his commitments.”. Until then, I always translated “commitment” into “keeping my deadlines” and I thought, I would already be pretty good in leadership, if that’s a criterion.

That was a misunderstanding.

He then asked us to reflect on all those incidents and everyday events, where we did not stick to our commitments. “Did I call back, as I promised to my colleague? Have I been home in time yesterday to says good night to my boys, as I promised when I left in the morning? Will I help my friend this weekend in his garden or do I prefer to relax from a hard week?”

There is so many opportunities everyday to stick to our commitments or to break them. In other words: there is so many opportunities to act as a caring leader or to fail – not only in business!

That was an eye-opening session and I understood, that I have a far way to go in terms of learning to lead. But: I call my kids every evening, if I promised to do so – no matter where I am and which meeting I am in.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 15:51 and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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  1. Dear David,
    I truelly love your ‘kissing your kid good night’.
    Thank you sooo much for sharing.
    Putting your article in my treasury box I make sure other can learn from you.

    Gerald Hüsch