I was playing poker with some friends recently, and we began to discuss raising our children. (Yes, I realize that is not what you are supposed to talk about while playing poker.) We began to talk about our different parenting strategies and helping our children turn into good adults. My mother always told people who asked her about my behavior (I was quite energetic as a child) that she was focused on raising a good adult. Mom, I think you did a fine job!
As we discussed our children and the focus of raising good adults, we struggled with the right words to describe it. None of us felt that we controlled our kids, and we hated the connotation of that word. Yet, we wanted to capture the essence of what our job is as parents (in this case, fathers). We discussed managing our children, which is a comparison I often make, as being a parent has made me a better leader and vice versa. Yet, "managing" is also the wrong word and has some baggage that we didn't like.
My friend Dave was happy to share his philosophy on raising kids. The term he uses is "navigate." He uses this in his leadership style, as well. He doesn't manage his staff, he navigates. He proceeded to point out the importance of navigation and how it still allows another person the options to make their own decisions. What a wonderful term to encapsulate our jobs as parents.
Yet it went beyond our job as parents. My other friends and I recognized the power of the term "navigate" in our business lives as leaders. We don't manage, we navigate. Sure, we lead others too, but in leading we are navigating. Wouldn't it be useful to rename our managers "navigators?" We often use the term "leaders," but we still refer to people in charge as "managers" and the work they do as "management." I would love to be called a great navigator of my teams. Wouldn't you?