As parents of 4 children, my husband and I have been very intentional about not “shushing” our children. If you are not familiar with the term, to be shushed is to be told to be quiet. We wanted our children’s voices to be heard. We didn’t believe in the old wives’ tale that a child is to be seen and not heard. While we always encouraged our children to talk, we confess we had a limit to the volume of their voices. In our household, it could get quite loud, so we had an imaginary “volume button” on the side of our necks! If one of our children got too loud, we would get their attention, and crank down the “volume”. This signaled that it was time to turn it down, but not turn it off.
As a Leadership Coach, I listen for a living. I heard it said that listening is one of the oldest forms of healing, it just requires someone to listen. I offer a safe space for voices to be heard and validated, and I provide guidance to individuals to lead with their voice. As humans, we need to be heard. We want our spouses, families, and children to listen when we speak. We ask ourselves, does what I say matter? Frequently, some lose courage and stop using our voices. When we have been muted, told to shut up, or have been told that what we say doesn’t matter, we self-silence.
In November, I attended a workshop on Coaching the Silenced Female Leader: Strategies and Insights for Both Men and Women, led by Carrie Arnold, PhD. One of the big ideas from the seminar was there is an assumption that when we hold a leadership role, we know how to lead with our voices. Many people do not know how to lead with their voices, leaders and non-leaders alike.
At DVFBC, we work hard to raise up individuals in a family system and teach purposeful communication, regardless of whether they hold a formal leadership title. We work to make sure all voices in a family are heard, which is why we like to listen to spouses and children in our process. Looking ahead to 2018, we are committed to continue resourcing all members of a family business.
Late this fall, we organized video conference calls with women in family businesses. Their feedback has helped shaped the content for a new Q Lab (Quarterly Peer Group) starting in late January. In these calls, women gave voice to similar joys and challenges of family business.
C.S Lewis says that “Friendship is born at the moment one person says to another, ‘What? You, too? I thought I was the only one.'” We hope to continue fostering connection and growth, so that individuals can better navigate the unique dynamics and complexity of family business.