Successful leaders must manage up (superiors), down (subordinates) and sideways (peers). Each group requires something different from you. Understanding family relationships helps you improve your relationships at work. This blog series explores the impact our relationship with our father has on how we build our business and life.
Commentary on Part Five – What Does ‘Being a Family’ Mean to You?
“We are family here at XYZ Corporation. We treat each other like family. We treat our customers like family, too.”
In him to whom love dwells, the whole world is but one family. -Buddha
We hear words like these frequently in the world of business. Tom Peters and Bob Waterman ushered in the “love they customer” movement in the 1980s with their mega-hit book, In Search of Excellence. Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher taught us all to “love thy employee” in the 1990s. The 2000s saw a rise in the importance of creating a family culture with workplace ‘family’ benefits for employees, followed closely by integrating customers’ ideas into as many processes as possible, such as product design.
So what does “being a family” mean in 2014? What lessons can we learn from home that impact how we act at work?
Several years ago tween Kristen Sibilia led a session for children of Social Venture Network members at our East Coast conference. She posed to the group a question she and older sister Kendra received from youngest sister, Kayla. Kayla asked, Why should I worry about you two and Mommy and Daddy? I just care about myself right now. That’s enough for me.”
I never forgot Kristen’s response: “You should care about your sisters and parents because when you care about your family, you have four people who care about you. You have four people worrying about you, finding ways to help you. Why have only one person [you] helping you through life when you can have four?”
We are inevitably our brother’s keeper as we are our brother’s brother. What affects one directly affects us all indirectly.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Kristen’s sentiment is expressed in two other stories I’d like to share. Each has a different perspective on family and what it means to “take care of others.” When I say that to reach your dreams you need to help others reach their dreams, what exactly does it mean to ‘help’?
The first story is told by Talmudic Rabbis. It attempts to explain why the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was built where it once stood:
Once there were two brothers who loved one another very much. The younger brother had a wife and four children. The older brother never married and lived alone. The brothers were poor farmers who worked hard and eked out a living on the field that their father had bequeathed equally to them. Each year at harvest time they divided the produce. Each took his share and stacked it outside his house.
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