BSA Lifestructures

All I Ever Needed to Know About Leadership … I Learned from Being a Parent

Ryan King, MBA, AIA, NCARB May 23, 2018

<p><span style=I am fortunate to be recognized as a leader within my firm, BSA LifeStructures. I have directed complex projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and I am now responsible for leading the St. Louis office of our firm.

What does it take to be a good leader?  Many business books, training opportunities, and mentoring from seasoned professionals have guided my educational journey of leadership. Along the path, I have come to realize that a great leader understands and follows basic principles of good parenting.



During the joyful and overwhelming beginnings of parenthood, no one tells you that you instantly become a leader. I have learned that effective leaders and parents do three things well:

  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Act

Listening and communication are the heart and soul of successful leadership and parenting. I do my best to listen to my son (and my wife!) to better understand perspectives and validate experiences. I want my family, as well as my colleagues and team members, to be heard and believe they are important. Every parent wonders at times … “does anyone listen to me?” But how often do we as parents slow down and reserve some of our precious time to listen to our children? A good parent/leader must practice and master the art of listening before those in our care can develop the same skill.

One of Stephen Covey’s Seven Principles is to “listen with the intent to understand.” Listening is the ultimate foundation for learning, and learning is never finished for parents and leaders. My son teaches me new things every day as I see the world through his eyes. I am grateful for the professional mentors who have taught me important leadership lessons of humility, balance, and discipline. It’s my turn now to take others “under my wing” and serve as a resource and guide to them.  

Leaders and parents make tough decisions every day. Our jobs can be challenging at times: children misbehave, employees complain, projects become complicated. It is vital that decisions are not delayed; otherwise, credibility and trust quickly evaporate. After practicing our listening and learning, parents and leaders must provide answers and act to get important stuff done.

Effective leaders and parents provide vision, set boundaries, make decisions, implement corrections, and serve as role models. I’m very thankful that BSA LifeStructures functions as a family. I will continue to draw upon lessons from my parenting path as I listen and learn in my role as a leader of people and projects. Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to provide those within my care a sense of trust, respect, and belonging.