Every family needs and deserves to have a leader. Families survive, succeed and thrive based on various drivers or enablers. In the last couple of months, I\’ve been reflecting on and debating the subject of families, family structures and enablers of success in a family unit. Having been raised in a close-knit family unit with present and disciplinarian parents, I often felt curtailed in certain aspects of my growth while in other fronts I felt like we overcompensated. The final verdict on this isn\’t mine to pass but the honest truth is that there\’s no clear hack to parenting so we make the best of what we\’ve got. However, in the same spirit there are certain principles that need to hold true for us to uphold the value of the family unit and continue it. As a beneficiary of a strong family support structure I am a believer and so I\’ll draft this piece as one.
Growing up as I mentioned, my parents were believers of hard work, discipline and academic pursuits across genders. Being children without the mental capacity to comprehend these, my parents were intentional about putting up structures to ensure that we could work along and within the provisions of what they expected of us. I remember during my primary school days it was given that weekends were our days to look after the animals. During the farming season, we definitely would spend our Saturdays & Sundays in the farm either ploughing, planting or weeding and for the harvests, we would be back at it. My Dad was the ultimate and de facto leader who would plan, organize and mobilize us including any other support we may have needed from others to ensure we never slacked. Such order and structure courtesy of his leadership ensured that we grew up embracing order and structure in our pursuits. We went to bed knowing what we were to do the following morning each with their responsibility. As we\’ve become of age, this habit has stayed with us as we pursue our different lines of work. Even though we are adults with our own pursuits, interests and responsibilities when we are home, dad still has the ultimate leadership ensuring that when and where we have common projects we are guided, mobilized and aligned to achieve that particular mission. That\’s the value of leadership.
On various fronts when I\’ve had discussions with individuals I have noted that in certain cases there was some semblance of order, structure and family leadership which is relatively dying off as they age. The impact of which is that there are no common projects or interests as a family leading to disintegration and growing rifts among siblings. With common pursuits and alignment from the leadership, there\’s a sense of accountability and access to support when there\’s need for such. This doesn\’t negate the fact that as adults in your levels you\’d pursue individual interests but rather these will be in addition to existing portfolio of works hence there is order. It also helps in molding leadership in young people as they definitely will have to apply the leadership skills learnt and experienced in their upbringing which fostering family unity. Mum often argues for solid individual achievement in relation to joint family achievement as an enabler for success. When each of us pulls our weight in whichever front we are in, the joint pursuits are made easier.
Like in companies in corporations where we argue for teamwork and unity of purpose, there\’s no exception in families. It\’s critical that families are united and focused on their common mission: to continue their heritage, secure the future of the next generations while supporting each other in the present. There\’s no better way to ensure family success than to model it around unity of purpose. Reflecting on the Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier, he argues that the greatest driver for human success and development is shared identity. When the human race achieves one great feat, we embrace it for our common good. The same is critical in families for success.
Leadership and unity in families have to be anchored on values and moral principles for success. The values espoused in families that ensure sustainable growth and success determine the extent to which they succeed. When values are relative and unfounded, families struggle to stay afloat if at all. Case example is on alcohol consumption. We all acknowledge that alcohol impairs our judgement and therefore there\’s need for control on our consumption as well as environments in which we consume of the same. Growing in village I knew that both my grandfather and father consumed but in all they never drunk together. There\’s some level of respect that came with that. At your level of impaired judgement as the leader, you don\’t intend to parade your flaws but rather stay in control. This help in upholding the respect while acknowledging human infallibility.
Families are the basic foundation of our societies. When we want to have a more socially responsible and development conscious society, we have to model it from our families through: leadership, unity & moral values.