Lead at Home

How to Lead at Home: The five gears of families and leaders.

“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” I grew up attending Skyline church when leadership expert John Maxwell was pastoring—which is where I first heard this phrase. Leader’s lead. They lead at work, and leaders lead at home too. This is something I have long believed.

What do you think of when you hear the world leader? Do you picture someone in a business suit? Do you see a person standing at the head of the crowd? Or a professional speaker with a microphone in hand?

Sure, these are all excellent examples of leaders. But what about a mom changing her newborn’s diaper? Or the dad, playing catch with his son? Or that same mom and dad out on their weekly date night?

Leadership is not only for corporations. In fact, some of our most powerful opportunities to enact long-term growth, influence, and change, happen right at home. Parents who raise their kids well are powerfully influencing the world more than they realize.

Lead at Work and Lead at Home

My friends Scott and Michell know a thing or two about leadership, which is why Jenny and I were thrilled to have them at our Thriving at Home Summit.

Scott has over two decades of working in sales, management, and senior leadership roles in high-growth organizations. He discovered the impact that great leadership can have on an organization. It can be the difference-maker. Having a healthy culture sits at the core of its success for today and beyond.

Through this journey, he not only wants to help individuals become leaders but also build leaders worth following—those who lead organizations that everyone wants to work for. In our expert interview with Scott and Michelle, this dynamic duo dove into practical leadership skills and applied them at home!

After all. Leaders lead, right? They lead at work. And they lead at home. Here are a few of our favorite insights from our conversation with Scott and Michell on leading at home.

How to Lead at Home

  • The Five Gears is an analogy of a stick shift in a car. It’s also a leadership tool for being present and productive.
    • 5th gear is when we are focused, in the zone, and need to shut the door to get stuff done.
    • 4th gear is when a lot of activity is happening at once, but it’s less focused. Perhaps we are multi-tasking, answering emails, or on the phone. We’re getting stuff done, but we’re not quite as focused as 5th gear.
    • 3rd gear is the gear for social time. Examples include being in the family room together, having the neighbors over for a casual barbecue, etc.
    • 2nd gear is “connect mode” and involves giving focused attention.
    • 1st gear is when you are recharging. Everyone recharges differently. So, it’s important to know what your recharge style is.
    • Reverse is about acknowledging two people in a family are in different gears. This is when the family needs to back up and get into the same gear together.
  • Families can use hand signals to communicate with their families about what gear they are in. Or what they perceive their current needs to be. They can also verbally discuss the gears to get on the same page.
  • Knowing these five gears is important because often, individual family members get stuck in certain gears.
  • Our kids also have different needs. Some kids need more connect time than others.
  • Do you know what gear you get stuck in and what gear each family member desires most?

Lead at Home by Knowing Your Gears

  • Gears 4-5 are task-oriented gears. They are about doing and fixing.
  • Gears 1-3 are more “be” gears. They are about reflecting and being present.
  • In the digital age, it can be difficult to transition into the lower gears.
  • For some families, it helps to have a 5th gear room (a home office) and a 4th gear space (the kitchen table during homework time). The living room and the yard can be a 3rd gear space. It may help to define bedrooms as primarily 1-2 gear spaces.
  • Getting stuck in 5th gear mode can be unhealthy because everyone needs time to recharge.
  • The gears provide a common and fun language that helps families communicate needs, boundaries, and desires.

Lead at Home by Getting Unstuck

  • One way to get unstuck (if you find yourself stuck in a gear) is to schedule your gears and be intentional about them. This can help because it’s important to do all gears well. Every gear is needed, and the gear cannot be delegated (Everyone needs to spend some time in each gear to remain healthy).
  • Big life changes can disrupt our gears and our gear cycle.
  • If you feel stuck, it’s important to know that first gear can unlock all of the other gears. Human beings need time to recharge. People also need time to transition between the gears. Going from 5th gear to 1st gear creates a bumpy ride both literally, in the car, and metaphorically, at home. Setting up mile markers or triggers can help us downshift. Parents can give themselves visual cues on the drive home that remind them to shift down and be ready to come home in a more peaceful state of mind.

Knowing the Gears

  • Understanding the gears is ultimately leading our families from a place of peace and joy. Using the gears well means we work hard when work needs to get done. Then, we make intentional time to connect at home. When family members are in different gears, they can use the five gears metaphor to express expectations, desires, or needs.
  • To learn more about the five gears, be sure to check out The Five Gears book below.

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