As I sat across the table from my beautiful little girl in all her sweet, yet slightly hyper, glory, I considered the gravity of what I was doing.
Sure it was a simple meal of chicken nuggets, fries, and ice cream, but it was much, much more than that.
It was connection. It was deep conversation (insomuch as that’s possible with a 6 year old). It was fun. It was a small thing that, hopefully, will continue to be one of many small things that will lead to a really big thing:
A daughter who has an idea of what it means to be treated decently by a man.
I am not perfect by any means, but I’m working hard at being more and more intentional. When I look at my daughter’s heart, I see both the stuff of greatness and something very fragile. It can soar, but it can be easily hurt.
What does any of this have to do with risk management?
When I plot and plan and make parenting my daughter and sons an intentional priority, I am, in a way, managing risk.
I’m not in control of all outcomes, of course, but I am attempting to establish some guardrails and some fun experiences that will help drive good future decisions.
Let me share a few risk management lessons that came across my brain while my daughter’s smile and personal version of the Frozen song ‘Let it Go’ melted my heart:
1. Little Things Matter
We do not have to create huge moments for our children at every turn. Similarly, when we manage the risks in our organizations, we simply have to be consistent in the little things. We need to have plans and take the small actions that make up those plans on a regular basis.
2. Having a Goal Helps
This might sound crass, but one of my goals is to help my daughter notice when she’s being treated well and when she’s not being treated well. They say that Secret Service agents, in order to identify counterfeits, study real American currency. They have a clear picture of what the real thing looks like. Consequently, they can easily spot a fake. My goal is to do the best I can at being the real thing as far as what it means to care for, treat with respect, and to honor the women in my life. That informs what I do (and even how I respond to the moments when I don’t do things exactly right).
Having a clear picture of the organization’s goal and mission will greatly bolster the nonprofit’s risk management policies and procedures.
If your goal is to provide foster care for children referred to you by the Department of Family and Children Services, then hopefully, your risk management protocols are consistent with honoring your job of caring for children.
3. Having Fun is Vital
My daughter got out of the car at Kroger and belted “Let It Go” at the top of her lungs, acting out the words, jumping up on the pine island as if it were her stage. I came close to shushing her. But then I realized that she was hurting no one, and there was an outside chance she might bring joy to a person or two (her voice is actually pretty decent). Allowing her to enjoy being a kid is powerful. She was having a blast, and so did I as a result.
While it might seem counter-intuitive, a fun work environment is often a safe work environment. I don’t mean a group of people who have ‘fun’ simply by waiting until 5:00pm and then mad-dashing to happy hour.
What I mean is that a group of people who truly enjoy themselves and care about what happens to each other and to their organization will take more care to make sure things are done right. We are responsible with things we take ownership of. And we take ownership of things we love.
4. Any Role is a Stewardship
I will always be my daughter’s Dad. I prefer that I be her Daddy, but she’ll get older and will probably only use ‘Daddy’ if she’s asking for some special dispensation of cash or permission.
Regardless, my whole role as a parent is to help her need me less and less. I’m a steward of this sweet girl while she’s in my care. Eventually, she’ll be on her own and my hope is she’s well-prepared for that (despite the inevitable heartache and disappointment that will be sprinkled amongst the good times).
All organizational leadership is a stewardship. You are not going to be in your role forever. Further, you won’t be leading the exact same people forever, and you won’t have the same clients, consumers, or students forever.
As a steward, one of your jobs is to manage risk while you move the organization and the people in it forward. I do want my daughter to drive eventually, but I’m not going to put her in the car on her 7th birthday and tell her to go get milk. I will train. I will guide. I will create proper boundaries.
Likewise, you will be well-served to consider how you deliver your current organization to its future leadership. You will be well-served to consider how you train and lead your current employees who might some day work somewhere else and use the skills and tools they learned under your leadership. Mostly,you are a steward of the individuals who trust you and your organization to provide their counseling, health care, or education. Managing risk takes the stewardship seriously and seeks to leave the organization and its people better when you leave than when you arrived.
There you have it. Four high quality lessons I pulled out of Daddy-Daughter date night.
By the way, I had fun, too. Mostly, I just had fun. My daughter is a good date. Many, many, many, many years from now, some nice young man will discover that, too. In case you missed it, many, many, many years from now.