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5 leadership traits you develop in marriage

Posted May 19

Marriage is a surprising but effective way to develop leadership abilities. By developing your marriage partnership, you develop leadership skills. This is because in both marriage and leadership, you have to make partnerships work.

Here are five leadership qualities enhanced by marriage.

1. Creating an atmosphere of positive influence

Positive influence in marriage is a fountain for prosperity.

"According to marriage psychologist and researcher John Gottman, accepting influence is one of the most determining factors of a successful marriage.

When you allow your spouse toinfluence you, you make sure all decision-making processes that affect your marriage and the family are done in a team effort. In other words, before making a decision, you consult one another and allow both of your opinions to weigh in on the matter. Influence is not an individual trying to impose their values on another.

When it comes to leadership, a person in charge should possess a set of values they would like to pass on to those they lead, and those being lead must be willing to embrace those set of values. On the other hand, a good leader will also allow themselves to be appropriately influenced by those they lead — just like marriage.

The transfer of influence hinges on one important thing: trust. Colin Powell said “Trust is the essence of leadership.” Creating an atmosphere of positive influence requires full trust at all times.

As you develop influence and trust in marriage you will develop the same qualities for positions outside of the home in which you lead.

2. Listening more than you speak

It is almost impossible to influence another person without listening to them. They will value what you value only when you value them.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Communication (effective listening) in a marriage is arguably the most important aspect of the marriage. Spouses who listen to each other become better at supplying each other’s needs.

As you develop your listening skills in marriage, you develop your listening skills in leadership. Successful leaders listen more than they speak, and speaking less portrays empathy. Demanding to be heard gives the impression of self-centeredness and self-promotion, which cripple any relationship or objective.

3. Delegating

At home, my wife and I agree on particular roles, and we expect each other to be the facilitators of those roles. This means for the tasks we each are over, the facilitator of those tasks can delegate to the other spouse or the children.

As with marriage, delegating in roles of leadership is not an opportunity to display total power; it requires organization and purpose. The leader must ensure that the individual assigned to the task is equipped to successfully complete it through their own ability and available support.

If you can effectively delegate within your marriage and family, you will be able to effectively delegate in your business and other outside responsibilities.

4. Not settling for zero-sum results

Compromise is a sure-fail in marriage. While I was preparing to get married, I was often told husbands and wives have to compromise. However, I have found that with compromise, individuals tend to keep score because one spouse gives up something while the other spouse gets what they want. Then, when the score becomes unfair, one spouse might leave the relationship feeling abused, betrayed or like injustice has occurred.

Likewise, employees are more likely to jump ship when feel they have no voice in the company.

The solution is collaboration, where both parties (of a marriage or business partnership) honestly put their needs on the table and diligently work to achieve a state of mutual benefit. When we collaborate and negotiate in marriage, both husband and wife walk away feeling their best interests were taken in full consideration.

Collaborating and negotiating in marriage will teach you extremely well how to do the same in outside leadership roles.

5. Preserving vision

Great leaders work tirelessly to preserve vision of the future. The most important part of vision preservation is preparation. It is insuring your successors are well equipped to take the vision even further.

Similarly, you and your wife join forces to build a legacy that will flow through your posterity. Preserving the vision requires full cooperation of the entire team. If you can successful preserve vision in marriage and family life, you will successful preserve it as you lead in roles outside of the home.

You do not have to search far for opportunities to develop effective leadership abilities. Your marriage is a more-than-appropriate setting. Discover how you grow as a leader while you diligently develop your marriage.

Gary is an economist and post-secondary educator. He graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He and his beautiful wife are stewards of four amazing children and founders of @LeadingandLove.

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