Barack Obama shares the leadership lesson he learned from raising his daughters Malia and Sasha: Different people require different approaches (SPLK)

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  • Former President Barack
    spoke Wednesday about raising his daughters, at an event
    in San Francisco organized by data analysis company Splunk.
  • Obama says that his daughters Malia
    and Sasha
    have different temperaments, so he had to take different strategies
    in raising them.
  • Likewise, in any company or organization, Obama says
    that leaders can take different approaches in dealing with
    different personalities, as well as give people room to make
    mistakes and learn from them.
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    Insider’s homepage for more stories

Former president Barack Obama said there’s a leadership lesson
he learned from raising his daughters.

Both of Obama’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, are now away at
college. Obama spoke about what he learned from parenting at an
event on Wednesday in San Francisco organized by the
data-analysis company Splunk

Raising children is similar to nurturing plants, Obama

“They’re a bamboo or they’re an oak or they’re a chestnut,”
Obama said on stage. “They all need water, sunlight, some TLC, but
how they grow and what pace, when the branches sprout, when they
flower at any given time, it’s just different. And so, our
daughters were different, and as they got older, they became

Obama said that Malia, now 21, has his calm temperament, while
Sasha, now 18, is more like his wife, Michelle.

“What that meant was, in parenting, the idea that you do the
exact same thing with each child the same way actually doesn’t make
sense,” Obama said. “There has to be equity and fairness in terms
of wanting them to get to the same outcomes, but we had to take
sort of different strategies with our girls on certain things.”

This principle, he says, is “actually a good leadership lesson”
that can be applied in the workplace.

“What I found with my staff is, there’s some people where I
could be more blunt with, and some people, I have to be a little
more, what do the girls call it,  ‘compliment sandwiches,’ trying
to wrap it around the criticism where you’re like, ‘You’re
wonderful. That was a terrible memo. I love you.’ There’s a little
bit of that.”

(Management experts might disagree with the former president,
here: What he calls the “compliment sandwich” has also been called
the “s–t sandwich” or the “c–p
,” and is considered by many to be a misguided approach
to giving feedback.) 

Now that his daughters are away from college, Obama says he has
to remember not to call them constantly and to give them their
privacy. With his daughters, he says the goal is to coach them to
make good decisions, and he had to learn how to balance wanting to
help them and letting them make their own mistakes.

Read more:
Barack Obama says any president should avoid TV and social media
when making a decision — it ‘clouds your judgment’

“That’s a useful leadership tool that applies to companies as
well or any organization,” Obama said. “You’ve got to give folks
enough room and ownership to be able to figure stuff out, and by
doing that, it means they’re going to be making mistakes. That’s
part of that process of development.”

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Barack Obama shares the leadership lesson he learned from raising his daughters Malia and Sasha: Different people require different approaches (SPLK)