Hands-off leadership: Bringing out your family's talents

We have the unique challenge of helping our spouse and children feel useful and acquire new skills. One of the best ways to do this is to allow the talents of your family members to shine.

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  • Whether it's playing the piano or smoothing out conflicts, your children and spouse have a lot to offer. This article offers tips on how to bring out their talents. Read on to find out more.

  • Invite them to help and then individualize your requests

  • Often, using a bit of trial and error is the best way to figure out a person’s talents. For example, I don’t really love the way my husband puts away clothes, but I never would have known that if I hadn’t asked him for help. On the other hand, he is a pro at doing the dishes, so I usually ask him to do that, instead.

  • Don’t try to replace their efforts. Let them learn by doing

  • A friend of mine recently shared an experience when she was a young adult and brand new to a prestigious women’s organization. Her mentor asked her to assist with specific tasks that would help an upcoming event run smoothly. My friend got to work with youthful enthusiasm only to arrive at the event and discover that her mentor had already handled everything that shehad been asked to do. It left her feeling like she had wasted her time, not to mention a little useless and ignored.

  • If we’re not careful, we can have similar situations in our families. If you’re going to ask a family member to complete a task, try not to be too picky about how it’s accomplished. Instead, invite your children to think through the best way to do it and be kindly curious about their methods. If possible, allow them to learn from their mistakes rather than doing it for them. The results may not be ideal, but less-than-perfect isn’t the end of the world, either.

  • Be patient as they develop accompanying talents

  • Although one talent may make someone a clear candidate for a job, the job may require a lot of other talents your chosen candidate does not yet possess. One family member may be charismatic but lacking in patience. Another may be naturally cheerful and kind, but struggles to finish assignments in a timely manner. It’s perfectly appropriate to ask children and spouses to do things that suit their strengths, but we must also be patient with their weaknesses.

  • My husband and I have divided our housework in a way that takes advantage of this idea. My husband’s brainpower is mainly devoted to completing his Ph.D, so he’s often mentally exhausted but eager to do something other than sit at a desk. If I expect him to do a lot of decision-making and planning, it quickly becomes frustrating. On the other hand, if I have a clear idea of what needs to be done and wisely delegate those responsibilities, it gives his brain a break andthe necessary tasks are completed.

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  • When families function at their best, each person contributes his or her talents. Leadership in the home means, in part, utilizing those talents in the best way. Pay attention to each person’s particular strengths, let your family members use them without micromanaging and be patient as they polish other skills. By doing so, you will bolster the confidence of your family members. You’ll also get more done. Those are talents truly worth developing.

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Sara Hagmann is a stay-at-home wife and writer who loves traveling, cooking, and kissing her husband. A lot.

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