Managing diversity can be a challenge for the most experienced leaders. Andrea Cook from Insperity compares managing diversity to hosting a lively dinner party. In her article, “Managing diversity in the workplace: 7 tips for success“, she states that you’ll need to be vigilant and committed to succeed. Her statement is valid for the workplace but also applies to leadership at home.
For parents, your leadership role doesn’t end when you close up the office. For many of us, this is when the real work begins, going home to motivate, influence, and direct the family. This topic applies to more than the workplace. Today’s diverse culture, specifically in the United States, is often most apparent in the American household where parents must deal with the diversity of personalities, ages, gender, and even race. As a result, below are three tips for managing and leading a household with different personalities.
1. Managing diversity by recognizing that our kids are different
As parents, we sometimes think that since we have provided our kids with similar upbringing, advice, and tools for success, they all should respond that same way. Therefore, we constantly compare them to one another, believing that they should be similar. We couldn’t be more wrong. Children experience and view aspects of life differently depending on several factors, including outside experiences, others’ influence, and personality types.
I have twin sons whose personalities are like night and day. One is quiet, reserved, and usually thinks before he speaks or reacts. The other is more emotional, aggressive, quick to respond. However, they have never been separated and grew up with both parents rearing them similarly. The first reality I needed to grasp was that my children were different, not just my two girls being different from my twin boys, but that each child has a distinct personality and will react and respond to situations differently.
2. Managing diversity by instilling a common set of values for your household
Some families follow a specific religion, or the family has particular values and traditions passed down over the ages. Whichever path your family chooses, it’s essential to set core values that will provide a common baseline for all household members. Despite the varying personality types, this will help all family members adhere to the family’s non-negotiables.
For example, my family does not follow a traditional Christian set of values. However, we do require a more disciplined and organized standard than most. It is likely for our military background. Therefore, respect and integrity are core values of our family, and as such, we have instilled these values in our children and our day-to-day family life.
3. Managing diversity by ensuring that everyone is involved
When parents have multiple children, it can be hard to manage all the personalities without feeling slighted. Even choosing what game to play on Game Night or what to eat for dinner can be challenging. However, it’s vital to ensure that everyone understands that their opinion matters.
For example, when my wife and I had four kids in the house, we would have a Sunday Gameday. We would grab snacks, play some music and play a couple of hours of games. We would usually choose three games. That way, we would play a different game that everyone liked. Typically, our twins would pick the same game, and our two younger daughters would choose other games. This flexibility helps to obtain everyone’s buy-in. For the snack menu, we would let everyone picks a snack, i.e., pizza roles, wingdings, etc., and then we would do a variety of snacks while playing games.
Leaders can employ similar techniques for managing diversity at work and at home. Understand the make-up of your team, set a common standard and communicate properly to ensure everyone is involved. Work, life balance is essential to a successful leader. Therefore, leaders must ensure that they discover ways to become better at managing and leading within the workplace as well as at home.