And The Children Shall Lead Us

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June 19, 2014 by Rick Brammer

A trend caught my attention this past week; blogs with a theme of what children can teach us about leadership. The titles included, “What my kids taught me about management”, “An eleven-year-old’s take on leadership”, and “An unexpected thing happened on the way to teaching my kids to cook”, plus a host of others. My first take on this, in jest, was why are we wasting all this money on college, MBAs, and leadership training when all we need are some kids in the office? But then, as I read many of these articles, I was reminded of a best-selling book from the 1980s, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum.

If you aren’t familiar with this book, it’s a collection of fifty short essays on a variety of topics written over many years. The title comes from the first essay and the message is, wouldn’t the world be a better place if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children. Some examples given are share, be kind to one another, clean up after yourself, and live a balanced life of working, playing and learning. And after reading the book I remember thinking, okay—it’s hard to argue with this. All told, Fulghum lists 16 rules that we learned in kindergarten.

What can this tell us about leadership? Well, let’s take those kindergarten rules and put them into business language and see how they translate. Start with sharing; in a business this equates to cohesive teamwork. Being kind to one another is treating others with respect. Cleaning up after yourself speaks to work quality and responsibility. And living a balanced life with continual learning doesn’t even need translating. If, as a leader, you exhibit these qualities and strive to instill them within the team you would, in my opinion, be a pretty good leader.

It may not be a good idea for children to be in the office, but maybe we should put some on the board of directors.

Let me close with Fulgham’s thirteenth rule, “When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.”

Thoughts?

Rick Brammer is president and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. We offer pre-service collection solutions as well as traditional back-end collections. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902.

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