When Linda was in graduate school in psychology, she was influenced by an amazing family therapist, Cloé Madanes, who wrote an article on parenting that Linda found life-changing.
The article talked about the fact that children deal with many rules from their parents and that those rules often change, making it extremely hard for kids to know what’s really important.
Madanes suggested that parents need to land on 3-5 rules so that kids know what is expected of them, parents know what to look for to determine compliance, and kids learn to negotiate with their parents within their rules.
So, when Linda became a parent, she came up with 3 rules for her children:
- You can’t hurt yourself.
- You can’t hurt others.
- You can’t hurt property.
Some families have rules about participating in family events, expectations about grades, or any of range of other priorities—but the goal with these rules is to limit them to 3-5 and have them last through childhood. The “you can’t hurt yourself” rule of Linda’s meant something quite different when her kids were little compared to when they had their driver’s licenses. Yet, the rule itself was the same.
This clarity empowered her kids and as they got older, they learned to negotiate with her for permission to do an activity on the basis that their choice “didn’t hurt them, others, or property.”
Think about your own experience of rules. We’ve all had bosses who seemed to have a ton of rules—sometimes rules that were contradictory or changed mid-project—which left you confused and unable to be truly successful.
As a leader or manager, sharing your 3-5 rules with your team can really increase your effectiveness. Remember, managers, like parents, are responsible for the success of others. Consider these guidelines to teach your teams your 3 – 5 rules:
Knowing what truly matters to you as a manager, will increase your effectiveness. Sharing your 3-5 rules with others empowers them; they know what you’ll hold them accountable to and they can ask that you give them room to navigate within the boundaries of those 3-5 rules.
This week, try to notice what really matters to you, what you actually look for to measure success, and what you need from others to feel confidence in them. Your clarity will help you and others to shine.
Until next time,
Your Coaches and Allies at Carpenter Smith Consulting