Leaders are Parents at Work

This past week, my younger son became a father for the first time. His older brother has 1 and 4 year olds. Our conversations covered their thoughts on their new stage of life and also how the experience has shaped their approach to leadership at work.

When they were youngsters, my wife and I set expectations, modeled behavior (most of the time), encouraged critical thinking and initiative and more good stuff. We kept to emergency situations any dictatorial instruction. They learned their were consequences to their choices. Their personalities are very different, but this parenting style contributed to the competent and caring adults they are today and to their thoughts about parenting now.

At work, they understand their job is get people to want to do what needs to be done eagerly with as little supervision as possible. And to execute promptly and correctly; to own the assignments and deal with obstacles without further instruction. And to ask for help when needed. They know to adapt the degree of micromanagement to the individual involved.

Each has a responsible leadership position — one is Chief Digital Officer for a women’s apparel fashion and retail firm, the other creates tv shows and leads sometimes hundreds of people on a show.

I will not say that they can conduct the orchestra entirely with their faces and no hands as Leonard Bernstein did with the Vienna Philharmonic. But they know that the connection they make with their “musicians,” communicating the concept of the symphony they are playing, encouraging excellence in execution and continuous improvement, fostering a collaborative climate are all part of parenting at work. The associates may be adults, but they look to their leader for such parenting.

That’s my view. What’s yours?


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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH

How Ordinary People Become
Extraordinary Leaders

by Stephen H. Baum (Random House)

Most leaders of American companies started out as ordinary people. What prepared them for the top job?

Countless more ordinary people of equal talent never developed the leadership core required to run the show. Why not?

"Lessons for life about the core leadership traits of character, risk taking decisiveness and the ability to engage and inspire followers."
--Jim Clifton, CEO, The Gallup Organization


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