Cleaning Baby Poop Helps Make Great Leaders

Man Changing Diaper in Hard Hat, Gloves and TongsYesterday, our youngest son (2 month old Gabriel) had a “blow out”. You parents know what I mean and the rest can probably figure it out from the title. It was a mess. By the way, if you’re eating while you read this, you may want to come back later….

Getting Your Hands Dirty

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The Martin Luther King Family
The Martin Luther King Family

While scrubbing the dirty onesie, I found myself contemplating a key business decision. Looking down at my hands, covered in soap suds and… well… baby poop, I had to chuckle. I wondered how many times famous father-leaders like Abraham LincolnMartin Luther KingWinston Churchill and others had to clean soiled baby clothes? This experience, it occurred to me, was a very humbling activity.

Humility and Priorities

Following someone who has cleaned messy diapers tells you something about that leader. It goes beyond the old saying, “they put their pants on the same way we do – one leg at a time”.  This shows their humility and priorities. It shows that the multi-million dollar deal they’re negotiating or the global team they lead is important, but at the end of the day, they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty – really dirty – for what is important.

To the world you might be just one person, but to one person you might be the world. (unknown)

Identifying the Poop Cleaners

Convinced that leaders who clean the poop from their kids’ diapers may be the kind of leader you want to follow? Here’s how you can identify some of them:

1. Family Calls: Leaders who prioritize family are not afraid to take calls from them during the day. If the individual steps out of meetings to take a family call, chances are, they’ve cleaned the poop.

2. Firm Departure Times: A friend and colleague of mine leaves every day at 5 PM, firm. Now, certainly, in the time of a crisis, you must be able to count on the leader, but as a general policy, poop cleaners often have scheduled departure times.

3. Family Appointments: The poop-cleaner often needs to schedule meetings around doctor and dentist appointments, school meetings and student activities. This is especially true if the individual comes from a household where both parents work outside of the home.

So the next time you see these activities from someone at the office, do not be concerned. Chances are that person is a poop cleaner. And, after all, cleaning baby poop helps make great leaders.

Question: What about you? Do you clean baby poop or follow someone who does?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]


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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

10 thoughts on “Cleaning Baby Poop Helps Make Great Leaders”

  1. My husband and I both clean up the poopy diapers.  It’s nice to share the responsibility.  I must say, I am more willing to follow someone who helps clean up the poop over someone who feels they are above it.  

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  4. Cleaning poop is a regular part of my routine. 🙂 Six months after the arrival of our first child, I had surgery on my right (dominant) shoulder; six weeks in a sling and a couple months of physiotherapy after that I was back changing poopy diapers. Many of my friends and colleagues joked about how nice it must be not to have to change Caleb’s diapers. “Not really,” I would reply. “It’s certainly not doing my wife any favours.”

    BTW, more men need to step up and change more diapers.

  5. There is an assumption that parents are more equipped to be leaders because they have ‘poop’ experiences, while those who choose not to have those in our life are not worthy of such. Leader who know the job from the ground up will give them better perspective of which they’re making large scale, impacting decisions. Being a parent, in of itself, does melt qualify. In most cases being a parent is extremely binding. ‘I couldn’t arrive on time because my kid was crying.’. ‘I have to miss a major event that is my responsibility because my kid has a school lunch’, ‘I can’t do after work events because my family….’. As if child-free and single people have to take up the slack for your decisions?

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  7. Rob from Portland

    I am extremely in favor of parents who make involvement with raising their children a top priority. However, I find this post insulting in to those of us who have opted not to have children. Some people have medical conditions that prevent childbirth. Some people have decided over population is a problem that they do not want to contribute to. Some people are RESPONSIBLE enough to realize that they would like to persue other activities and do not want to bring a child into the world that would get less than the complete dedication that proper child rearing requires. For every great leader you can show me that commits to child rearing, I could show you a dozen examples of parents who are neglectful, haphazard, or not cut out for the job of parenting. I’m proud of you for cleaning up your childs “blowout”, but poop on your hands does not neccessarily make you a better leader. Likewise, lack of children does not neccessarily indicate a lack of priority.

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