Remember your first date? You were so focused on making a great impression:

You thought through where to take her (or him in some cases) about 1,000 times.

You were deeply interested in each other and listened more than you spoke.

You held the door open. You chose what to eat off the menu carefully so as not to look like a glutton.

You had only kind things to say. You even bought a new shirt or dress.

You were you were focused on getting everything right. Almost every relationship starts there, but something happens to many of us when we become a family.

Our guard comes down.

We become as interested in ourselves as we do in other people.

We might expect people to hold the door open for themselves.

Kindness gives way to ‘truth’.

New clothes are mostly for making an impression at work.

Some of this is natural and even good (don’t we all need a place where we can just be ‘ourselves’?) – but not all of it.

What happened?

Many of us simply cease putting our best efforts into leading well at home. As I outlined in this post, that’s a mistake. Way more than you think is riding on how you lead at home. Leading well at home (whatever your family looks like) is a prerequisite to leading well in life and at work.

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And yet many leaders will let things slide at home. They come home drained from a demanding day and give the family left overs.

It’s critical that parents think this through: Lead poorly at home, and the consequences catch up with you.

[shortcode-variables slug=”circle-inline”]In fact, they can cause you to lose the position you’ve worked your whole life to attain. Lead well at home, and you will become a better leader in every aspect of your life while your family gleans the benefits.

Here are a few surprisingly simple things you can do to lead better at home. None of these are that hard to do in the end. If you remember to do them. And I find when I do them, my ability to lead my wife, my kids and even myself goes up significantly.  I just become a better leader (and a better follower) in every aspect of my life when I do these 5 things:

1. Save some of your best energy for family

Many parents simply show up at home exhausted. They’ve given their best, and there’s nothing left over for the people who matter most to them. Start managing your energy, not just your time. Prepare for home the same way you prepare for work and your home life will improve. Guaranteed.

2. Eliminate “Family Voice”

Most people in families will, semi-regularly, use a tone of voice that is a mixture of frustration, aggravation and exasperation that I call ‘family voice’. And almost every family has one. If you used that tone of voice at the office, they would fire you. But somehow we think it’s okay to use it at home with the people who matter most. It communicates that we don’t value them.

So what if you started communicating with your family the way you would with a colleague or even a stranger – with kindness and respect? Changing the tone at home could change so much.

3. Look to apply what you’re learning at work in a home setting

You read leadership books. You go to conferences. You mine blogs. All to get better at your job. But what if you added an extra application place for your learning? Your home.

What makes you a better leader at work can make you a better spouse and a better parent. Try it.

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4. Date your family

Date your spouse for sure, but also date your family. Intentional time together is more important than just time together. Sure, you need downtime. But you also need ‘up-time’ where you are focused on the others around you, engaged at a deep level and present for them. It can be fun (and it usually is). Make meaningful time together.

5. Build margin into your life

Margin is the white space left over in your life. If I clutter up my life with too many things and lose white space, I get too stressed to bring my best. Tell me if this isn’t true in your life: you are at your most kind when you have the most margin.

If you calendar margin into your life at work and at home, you will find it much easier to lead at home and at work. In this post, I outline some of the things I do to ensure I have white space and margin in my life.

I share these things with you because they are also a reminder to me. When I lead well at home, everything goes better.

What do you do that helps you lead well at home?


Carey is the lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and writes one of the most widely read Christian leadership blogs today at He is the author of “Leading Change Without Losing It” and co-author of “Parenting Beyond Your Capacity” with Reggie Joiner. Make sure you check out Carey on twitter @cnieuwhof.


Creative Commons License by Carey Nieuwhof is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.