The art of painting targets

For the past several months my small group has been studying the book “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours” by Dr. Kevin Leman (Amazon).  On the cover (pun intended), it appears to be a study in developing a more stress-free form of parenting.  And while that may be true, I think it would be better described as a family leadership guide.  Here’s what I mean.  So much of leadership, in or outside the family, comes down to the matter of clarity – clarity of expectations, clarity of systems, clarity of vision.  According to the book, successful parenting is not so much about cajoling/forcing/manipulating/bribing our kids in a certain direction, rather it’s about painting the target and encouraging them (through positive and negative consequences) to shoot for it.

I believe the concept holds just as much weight for leadership outside the family.  This is something I appreciate about my boss.  He’s a painter.  Not in the spirit of Michelangelo, but a painter nonetheless – a target painter.  As an artist and leader of artists, it’s incredibly liberating to fully understand the expectation…and the accompanying boundaries.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably received some “general direction” leadership at some point in your life.  It can seem liberating, but ultimately here’s the problem: while a target has not been communicated, you will be gauged against that unspoken target.  Great leaders are experts at painting targets, but even the worst leaders have expectations.  Bad leaders just don’t communicate and clarify the expectation.  So while looking like freedom and room to run, it ends up being the rope that hangs you.

With this in mind, I’m on a quest to be the “king of clarity”.  My family deserves it, my fellow artists deserve it, and my teams deserve it.  First on the list, clarity in my own head.  Sounds like another blog post…



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