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Dr. Glen Hong is a clinical psychologist and author of Upside Down: How to reverse your thinking to emotional freedom.
Having had the privilege of working with many fathers who were also CEOs of their companies, the one common statement that was made with all of them was, “My employees act just like my children, and my children act just like my employees!” And because home can be like work and work like home, through the multiple sessions with these extraordinary individuals, there became the intersection of the most common unhealthy behaviours that would always need to be addressed in both settings. Whether it was the worker on the job who was the constant gossiper, to the child at home who was not contributing to the household chores, the consequence of not addressing these behaviours were always the same, a dysfunctional environment.
The truth is, being a father and a CEO at the same time is not easy. However, whether you are raising your kids at home or leading your team at your place of work, the common denominator is you and your ability to lead. Leadership is not just leading others towards an agreed upon goal, but it is also about creating an environment that is healthy and emotionally safe. That means in both the home and work environments, promoting independence as well as providing the structure within that independence so that everyone can thrive. To maintain this healthy dynamic, it is important to address these five unhealthy behaviours head on.
This person is overly concerned with what other people think about them and will often overextend themselves and burn out. The enmeshed individual will often have low self-esteem and will constantly seek out validation from their immediate environment. The solution, encourage the individual by having them share more about their personal beliefs and opinions, as well as having them take on more leadership roles. These activities will promote their independence and will naturally teach them to set better boundaries with other people.
This individual is only concerned with their own personal well-being and will constantly avoid and not get involved in any shared activities. This person is continuously mentally and emotionally checked out and is often critical of those who seek to belong and establish healthy relationships. The answer, identify and discuss how they can be their own individual and yet still be included in the work or family dynamic all at the same time. This requires the individual to expand more mentally and emotionally and to see the value that they hold, especially within the communal setting. This will open them up to that part of themselves that desires to connect with others.
This person when they have an issue with another person, will include another person or more because of their inability to control their own emotions. And so, what was a two-person problem now becomes a three-person problem or more because this individual cannot deal with problems head on. This person is the gossiper and the backstabber in the work or home setting. This behaviour type is the most dangerous because of their desire to manipulate others and to cause constant chaos. The resolution, set boundaries with this individual and when gathering information from them, make sure that they take accountability for their actions and contribution to any problem that is taking place. By setting boundaries with them, you are teaching them to regulate their own emotions better.
This individual has a ‘do as I say and not as I do’ attitude about everything. They will constantly critique, criticise and tell people how things should get done and yet when it comes to their own abilities, they fall short of their own standards. This person will perform about average in everything that they do but will talk as if they do everything well. The action plan, simply be honest about their level of work and directly tell them “Less talk more action.” It would also be helpful to explain how they are projecting their own problems onto others. When they are criticising another, they are just indirectly talking about how truly unworthy they really feel about themselves on the inside.
This person will constantly go on the attack and be very aggressive and hostile with another individual, and yet when they are confronted, will act victimised and helpless. They will be dichotomous in their thinking meaning be black or white and all or nothing in their processing. And there is very little nuanced emotions experienced by this individual other than going from hostility to helplessness. The fix, have this person understand that they need to let go of trying to be seen as perfect. It is taking it further by sharing that actually no one sees you that way anyway. This does not mean that they are not worthy, but that the actual sign of self-worth is being willing to own your mistakes. The truth is no one is perfect, but we all have value. If this person can transition from the image that they are trying to hold of themselves to actually being the perfectly imperfect person that they are, positive change can occur.
In closing, being a father and a CEO are great responsibilities separately but trying to manage both in your life is a truly extraordinary. My hats off to all of you!