There are some striking similarities between being a homeschooling mom and being the CEO of a major corporation.
Okay, I’ve never actually been the CEO of a major corporation.
Out of the yearly boatload of books published on leadership in the corporate world, I’ve only read a handful, but I’m finding some leadership qualities apply to both vocations. Since the job of a homeschooling mom involves so much management of people and resources, we can certainly learn some lessons from corporate managers.
Not all of these books are good or wise, or even sensical–like the fantastical mumbo jumbo about the Law of Attraction. As if the “Universe” really will give you the things you meditate about. From what I can tell, the universe isn’t a “giving” kind of “person” because as much as I’ve meditated on chocolate, it still doesn’t magically appear when I’m in my pajamas on a Saturday night having a pregnancy craving. I have to actually haul my gigantic belly to the store for that sweet goodness to appear in my life. Bummer.
We homeschooling moms would do well to think of ourselves as corporate leaders, just for a for a moment, just to reframe our perspectives on our vocations–but only the common sense parts of corporate leadership. No fantastical mumbo jumbo allowed.
Former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Michael Hyatt, talks about these common sense characteristics of leaders here. It’s worth a listen.
First up: Organization
Wait, sorry homeschooling mama, did that just cut right to the bone?
The truth is, it’s hard to manage both a household and a school at once. There’s a ton of stuff to keep track of, maybe two tons. Consider what all the homeschooling mama’s vocations look like out in the world:
- school administrator
- math, science, writing, reading, music, and foreign language teacher
- lunch lady
- budget committee
- soccer coach
With all these jobs, it’s no wonder organization has to be–or become–one of a homeschooling mama’s strengths.
The good news is, organization requires very few tools and habits. A simple Google calendar on your phone, or a small notebook to keep track of grocery lists and to-do items can change your life.
The very good news is that organization is a process that one never completes–your goal should be to keep getting better, bit by bit. There’s no perfect way to organize a homeschool. Any little change toward a more organized homeschool and household will start calming the chaos, and your spirit.
If you want to dig in deep with an organization guru, check out Mystie Winckler’s blog. I’m loving her new series on Homeschooling with Evernote. Pam Barnhill’s got some great yearly planning resources. Or, if you’re one of those people who needs to learn to say “no” to opportunities, check out Greg McKeown’s book on essentialism.
Next, the very boring: Integrity and Transparency
In the Christian household, these should be a matter of course. We are constantly repenting of our sins to our God, but that should include acknowledging our failings to our children as well–and asking them for forgiveness when we’ve been harsh, distracted, lazy, or otherwise not serving their needs well.
No young person is blind to hypocrisy, just like employees can spot a leader a mile away who expects things from his people that he won’t do himself.
As any parent of a toddler can attest, kids do what we do, not what we say. Character traits we expect to nurture in our kids need to be those we work hard on exhibiting ourselves.
The most important leadership characteristic a homeschooling mom must exhibit is Humility.
Neither the CEO, nor the veteran homeschooler knows everything about every subject under the purview of their organization. The CEO likely doesn’t know the intricacies of each job in HR, accounting, or marketing, just as the homeschooling mom may be an expert in biology, but isn’t likely also an expert in English composition.
Recognizing their weaknesses allows both the business leader and the homeschooling parent to bring more knowledgeable or skilled people onboard. For the business, this means hiring professionals who each add unique value to the team. For the mom, this means hiring tutors, virtual teachers, or using the many available scripted, step-by-step curricula that allow her to learn alongside her student.
The best leaders in business surround themselves with people who are smarter than them in a particular area. Homeschooling moms can really add value to their kids’ educations by doing the same thing. Ask a college student to tutor your daughter in astronomy, join or start a co-op where other parents teach in their areas of expertise, while you teach in yours. Your kids will not only go deeper into the area of interest, but they may gain mentors and lifelong friends along the way.
Certainly, teaching littles at home is much more intimate than any office environment I’ve ever been a part of, as evidenced by the fact that my “subordinates” feel it’s perfectly acceptable to wrestle, tickle, yell at, and steal toys from one another regularly. Yet, everyone has to work together to accomplish common goals, even if that’s simply getting out the door on time. Each person brings their own experience, skills, and interests to the team, and it’s my job to “manage” these individuals toward the benefit of each and the whole.
Even though leading your bunch can feel more like wrangling a band of mongols for an afternoon of knitting, there are plenty of resources out there to help. Looking outside the plethora of homeschooling books and resources can revitalize our homeschools, because good advice just plain works, whether in a corporation or a homeschool.