Parents, Leadership, and Humility
James L. Casale
Humility is a leadership trait. Parents are,
for better or worse, leaders who can influence their children and their children’s
children. Sam Walker, writing in the WSJ,offers searing evidence that heroic individuals who act calmly in
life-or-death situations do so because they are true leaders who are knowledgeable,
composed, collaborative, and confident. And at the end of it all, they are humble. Parents need to model all of
these leadership traits to be successful and raise successful kids.
cites three examples, two airline pilots and one mine foreman, who, due to
their heroic actions, saved hundreds of lives. All three had similar leadership
qualities that parents should emulate.
ago, Alfred Haynes, a former Marine aviator and commercial pilot, put on a
“crisis management masterclass” as he guided his DC 10 to a crash landing that
saved hundreds of lives. The tail engine had blown apart, and the shrapnel from
the explosion had disabled all the hydraulic lines controlling the rudder and
flaps. There were no brakes. He had to land the plane at twice the normal
the plane broke into four pieces. No one was expected to survive. However, 184
out of 296 did survive, including the crew. At a subsequent news conference,
Captain Haynes said that there were no heroes, “just a group of people who did
their jobs.” Calm, humble, composed, and
knowledgeable are words that easily describe the pilot.
recent example that captured the world’s attention is the heroics of Chelsey
Sullenberger, who, in 2009, landed his commercial jet on the Hudson River
without a single loss of life. “We were simply doing what we were paid to do,”
said the modest pilot.
The third example
is less well known. Luis Urzua was the foreman of a group of miners trapped in
a Chilean mine that caved in. This calm and quick-thinking man remained with
his men for 10 weeks before they were rescued. He insisted on being the last
man out. Afterward, he said, “ We learned to keep our composure.”
don’t usually find themselves in life-or-death situations that may affect
hundreds of people, but those of us who are raising kids are no strangers to
crises or potential crises. Jimmy falls out of a tree. The house is on fire.
Grandma trips and falls. Joey swallows a dishwasher pod. Stephanie falls into
the pool. The family car with everybody in it is rear-ended. Need I go on? Are
Even if you
feel you command the safety police at home, stuff happens. While you may never
be accused of negligence, like the couple who somehow lost track of their
toddler who fell into the gorilla’s zoo enclosure in Cincinnati or the man in
New York City who forgot to drop off his
children at the daycare and left them in a hot car for eight hours, no one is
immune to unforeseen events.
Do you know
how you will act in a crisis? Are you aware of the qualities you need to
mitigate dangerous situations? Do you fully understand your role as the leaders
of your family? Is humility, knowledge,
composure, confidence, and collaboration part of your repertoire, and are
you modeling it for your children? The following leadership qualities must be
evident if you expect to be an effective parent:
Composure: Somebody has to be in charge. It
helps if it’s the adults in the room. Your kids are watching and learning. How you act in a crisis will have a lasting
effect, and it is easier to stay calm and emotionally in control if you know
what to do and have some basic knowledge other than calling 911.
Accurate Information: Heroes who save hundreds of lives,
like pilots, boat captains, or mine foremen, are experts in their field. First
responders save lives daily and later claim they were only doing the job they were
citizens who save lives in a crisis act instinctively to help others. They run
into burning buildings or pull people out of cars in devastating accidents.
When interviewed afterward, none
consider themselves heroes.
often act instinctively, too, but accurate information about how to act in
specific situations will honor your legacy as a parent. Take a first aid course, safety-proof your house, collaborate with
first responders, and keep those important telephone numbers handy.
Collaboration: If the
other head is available, two
heads are better than one. If only one parent is present, be sure to have immediate access to one or two other
heads you can confer with. It could be your spouse, doctor, neighbor, relative,
or friend. Again, keep those emergency numbers handy and stay composed.
Confidence: Your kids get their confidence from
you. How you conduct yourselves as parents and model your expectations are the
cornerstones of raising successful kids. Staying connected to your kids is
critical. This requires that you believe in yourself and your abilities.
Confidence is rooted in knowing what you are doing and putting this knowledge
on display for all to see. Your kids are watching and learning.
never bliss; it’s dangerous and can be fatal. Read the papers or watch the news
if you are not convinced. Anybody with kids can claim to be a parent, but
successful parents fully understand their sacred and primary responsibility:
the safety and security of their children.
It’s never too late to be a more effective parent. Effective parents depend on strong beliefs and accurate information and dedicate themselves to modeling expected behaviors. They understand that their leadership roles require composure, accurate information, collaboration, and confidence. And yes, humility and modesty count.
Walker’s article appeared in the WSJ on 7/27–28/19. I recommend it
Dr. Casale is both a
state and national award-winning educator: Florida Teacher of the Year and
National School of Excellence Principal from Harrison, NY. He is a published
author and a national speaker. His
website is www.commonsenseparenthood.com.
Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.