Do you work proactively in a calm, alert and focused way at work only to find that when you get home it’s a different matter? When we are not in charge at home it drains our energy and affects our ability to function well in both places. I know how this feels – before I had kids I worked as a lawyer in an office, and when I asked people to do things they would do it – without argument!

That all changed when I had a baby and an impulsive and gorgeous pre-schooler.

It was learning parenting skills that helped me to understand how good leaders use their energy. They set things up to go well, rather than reacting when it doesn’t. I found ways to be a calm, alert and focused leader at home and now I work with others to do the same.

What do you notice about how you feel at work and how you feel at home? If I was a fly on the wall at your place, what would I see? Would I see you being a leader? Whether you are a parent or not, there are things that a good leader does to keep things going smoothly at work and at home:

We are the leader

As adults the quality of the relationships we have with others depends on our communication skills and our perspective-taking ability. This applies no matter the age of the person we are in a relationship with. It’s even more important to take the lead with our children, who have immature brains.

Leaders build strong teams by increasing awareness of the things they pay attention to. This requires a deliberate change in what we typically do at home. Parents tend to spend energy focusing on all the things our children can’t do. We don’t just do it with our kids, we do it with other adults too. It’s such an ingrained habit that we can find ourselves repeatedly asking our partner to do things like unload the dishwasher, and when they don’t we feel resentful. If our default position sounds like this:

“You always leave clothes lying around or “You never put the bins outwe are leaning towards this negative habit.

When we do this too much it causes disconnection and weakens the team.

Parents tell me all the time “I would say good things if I could find anything good to say.” I’m going to challenge you to look harder. There are things that are going well. Turn it around and find ways to build connection.

When was the last time you said this?

“I like the way you helped me carry in the shopping bags without me asking you, that was so helpful.”


“I loved the way you took out the rubbish without moaning.”

Maybe you think I just don’t have time to do this. I am a busy person running my business and people just have to do it. The problem is that when we keep on doing it the way we have always done it, we are going to get the same results. It’s not only ineffective, it drains us and we won’t have as much energy for work either.

Research on negative and positive interactions in relationships by John Gottman from the Gottman Institute shows that in order to feel good and be motivated, we need to hear five positives to each negative comment. This is known as the Magic Ratio. Outside of conflict discussions, successful couples had an even higher positive-to-negative ratio—20:1. Having a ratio below 5:1 within conflict became one of the many potential divorce indicators found in the Gottman research. So, when it comes to helping things go more smoothly at home can we afford NOT to pay attention to what is going well?

The choice to pay attention to what we want to see more of is a deliberate one. The more we pay attention to what is going well the more cooperation we will get and the stronger our team will be.

You can learn more about the effective strategies Justine uses with her clients here: