Leaders, we know lessons are omnipresent; they await in the mundane routines and events of life. I thank my 15 year-old granddaughter Desi for that reminder.
Fulfilling my role as grandmother, I offered Desi help cleaning her room. I usually make the offer right before her clothes are up to the ceiling. My goal is to complete a deep cleaning with a few new purchases to spruce up, update, and organize the space better. It is a $150 not too extreme but extra clean makeover project. However, what I got was an unexpected priceless leadership workout.
Here are “ Leadership Lessons from a 15 year-old”:
- Help, not rescue. She was not a child that needed step by step instructions. She needed general direction such as “If you don’t need it or love it, give it away or toss.” Unlike previous clean-up dates, Desi took the lead with dust cloth and mop in hand.
- Follow her vision. This was her room and it was her vision to create. She tested my commitment early on. She tossed the $10 princess bookends I gave her years ago into the trash pile. Obviously, as a teenager, she did not need or love them, but I bought them! I bit my tongue and my urge to rescue them and stayed true to my word and her vision. Then she felt hanging decorative lights was as important as hanging new curtains. Standing on the step stool, I listened as she guided me with hanging instructions.
- Find and follow the flow. As cleaning her room obviously is not on her top ten’s list, her pace was slower than my just do it and get it done approach. But she was not the tortoise or the hare; her pace was reasonable to get things done in the time we allotted. Desi was vested. She owned the project and I respectfully acknowledged that by falling into her rhythm.
- Have Fun. We took the time to talk, joke, and look a few old pictures. Her sweet dimpled faced baby picture was our favorite and that one got a new iridescent pink frame and sits on her dresser.
- Celebrate when the work is done. So I learned after all the work was done and the garbage was at the curb, she would celebrate with movie plans later that week. My celebration was more immediate a hot bath and a nap.
So with a hug and kiss, the cleaning project came to a close. I don’t know if she learned anything that day, but I was reminded to step aside and let others lead. Even at 15 years old there are some pretty amazing leaders in the making.
I welcome your feedback and invite you to share your unexpected leadership lessons.