For the last 12 years Bettina, Joyce and I have spent a week in Whitby in August. I get to spend lots of time with Bettina each day during our holiday and it involves lots of walking and lots of fun!
While we were there, Joyce and I talked about the lessons Bettina teaches us every day when we are together; about what is important in life, and leadership. I could come up with more than twenty examples but twenty is a nice round number to be going on with.
Bettina’s 20 Leadership Lessons (in no particular order because each one is equally important to her):
- Loyalty: Loyalty from Bettina is something that has to be earned. Loyalty towards Bettina happens because of who she is as a person. You do not get loyalty simply because of a position or an appointment.
- Gratitude: Bettina is so thankful for everything that comes her way and she shows her gratitude to all those around her – you feel good inside because you have made a difference and you want to do more for her
- Expectations: Both my daughters (Bettina and Jennifer) have very high expectations of me which I am happy to meet – but woe betides you if you take your foot off the pedal!
- Respect and Trust: This is something to be won, it is something to be earned and just because you had it yesterday doesn’t mean you have it today.
- Team Work: Each one of us is dependent on the other and we each have our roles and together we make a great team. Bettina’s input is imperative to our success.
- Influence: Bettina is a change maker. (She has influenced me to start a second career in supporting people with learning disabilities!) People who spend time with her (teachers, teaching assistants, Personal Assistant etc) tell me that she has influenced the way they see life.
- Significance: Her life and her actions are important to all those who are significant in her life.
- Confidence: Confidence for Bettina comes from doing things often and doing it well. The more often she does something, such as going to Whitby, she progresses which makes her feel more confident, and that is the same for me.
- Communication: Expressing her needs; how she feels and understanding what you are saying has always been a great challenge to Bettina. Bettina works very hard to communicate with you and it is important you repay the courtesy and be an active communicator
- Likability: You will get so much more from people (and life) if you are likeable. People fall over themselves for Bettina and not just those who have known her a long time
- Consistency: Bettina needs you to be the same person every minute, hour and day – you cannot indulge yourself in moods/behaviours – this is a great discipline to live by. There is always an air of calm in the RAW household!
- Discipline: Discipline can mean lots of different things to different people. For Bettina (and for me too) it is about how you use self-control, how you plan ahead and your responses.
- Empathy: Building a relationship with Bettina involves trying very hard to see the world through her eyes and you need to understand that for a person who copes with Autism this is very different. Bettina returns your efforts by being empathetic towards you too which is always very humbling.
- Self-Regulation: Bettina is no different from anyone else – she gets frustrated and angry – but she consciously controls her behaviour.
- Standards: Bettina sets very high standards for herself and expects the same from others. Being Bettina’s Dad means there will never be complacency from me.
- Manners: Bettina never leaves home without them! Her good manners are important to her, as your good manners are too. Bettina is a good role model for those around her and always evidences that good manners are contagious!
- Anticipation: Bettina not only needs to know what is happening now, she is anticipating the next few steps afterwards, so there are no surprises and she has time to plan how she will react.
- Humour: Bettina’s ability to make us laugh (and her effort to make us laugh) is a winning trait that I have found in all great leaders, especially when you are up against it. Bettina will do this even when she is tired or if the weather is a bit bleak and if she feels you need a lift
- Courage: No matter how much I want to protect her as her Dad, Bettina faces fear every day because of her learning disabilities, autism and her complex communication difficulties. Life can be a maze, and Bettina does feel the fear, but she does it anyway!
Before our holiday I didn’t have these lessons in mind and I would not be surprised by Bettina if I was able to come up with a fresh 20 the next time I spend a whole week in her company. However, when I look at this ‘Top 20’ it sums up what leadership means to me – each one is imperative to the role of a leader.
What about your Top 20?
- Whitby is a fishing port and seaside resort situated on the North East Coast of England. Captain Cook sailed from its port and Bram Stoker wrote ‘Dracula’ and set much of the early story there.