Families and organizations both bring individuals together into a group. That’s not all they have in common. At work, individuals may end up in a role or position that evolved from their role in their childhood family. Whether we are the person everyone counts on at work, the one who gets along with everyone, or the “problem child” who can’t seem to do things right, we tend to bring what we learned early about our roles to bear on on work with others.
If you are struggling with a leadership issue, especially one that has cropped up in more than one workplace, it’s possible that you could benefit from thinking about your family of origin, and considering how it might be impacting your current situation.
Some questions to consider:
- Is your role in the workplace similar or different to your role in your childhood family?
- Most leaders learn how to deal with conflict while growing up. How did your family manage conflict? Were people direct? Did they avoid conflict? Or was there some other method for dealing with disagreement?
- Are you an extrovert or introvert, and how did that fit in to your place in the family?
- What were the patterns of careers and education in your family? How do those influence who you are and what you want to be, or believe you should be?
- What kinds of boundaries and structure did you have in your family? Were there strict rules? Or was there a more relaxed style? Were boundaries clear?
How might your answers to these questions relate to how you lead right now? When clients answer questions like these during leadership coaching, they often seem to become more clear about the reasons behind their particular challenges. This clarity in turn leads to making an informed choice about how they want to change as they move forward.