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Leadership is pretty much like respectful parenting

Was struck after a conversation about leadership by the parallels I see between it and parenting (or, at least, the parenting values we tend to choose as a family):

  • creating conditions for others to grow without treating them as “small”
  • legitimate peripheral participation: creating conditions for learning by observing and participating on one’s own terms in existing practices, rather than telling about how things should be
  • seriously addressing nightmares as serious stuff even when you can’t imagine how someone could be afraid of that
  • nurturing passions while taking care of safety
  • thinking in terms of boundaries and attractors
  • telling what is going to happen and discussing the options instead of pulling others along for a pre-arranged trip
  • believing that loving care and on-going conversation can get you much further than punishments and rewards
  • figuring out how to express love in another’s terms, not in your own
{ 7 comments… add one }
  • caheidelberger December 11, 2009, 21:08

    Lovely post — as a dad, I particularly like the point about taking others’ nightmares seriously, even when we know there’s nothing to be afraid of. Quite the challenging model for leadership!

  • Brandon R Allen December 14, 2009, 05:18

    This is a great point and something that I have thought about a lot. There are tons of parallels between the two although it seems that some people would be offended by saying that.

  • John Tropea December 16, 2009, 08:35

    Great post!

    I’m new to parenting with a 5th month old and really enjoyed reading the book “The Continuum Concept”. And hope to take onboard what I learn about complexity from Snowden and apply it to parenting.

    Chris Corrigan has a couple of good posts about parenting and emergent learning conditions which parallels with leadership in organisations…which is really the concept of an enterprise 2.0

    I posted about the midwife role in our homebirth…actually my post was before the actual birth.

    During the birth the midwife hung back and allowed my wife and I to share the experience as much as we could, she would only intervene if really needed…she set the conditions so we felt enabled and empowered.

    Very contrasted with a hospital approach of control, one-size-fits-all….


    • Lilia Efimova December 16, 2009, 11:25

      John, thanks for comments and links! As for the parenting books – I liked “The continuum concept”, but have have mixed feelings about it – I think it idealises too much this way of thinking/doing. Wrote a bit about it at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2007/06/08/parenting-traditional-wisdom-and-modern-life/

      And, since we are at parenting books – the one that I would recommend any new (especially research-minded 🙂 parent to read is “Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent” by Meredith F. Small.

  • bassinet February 1, 2010, 19:52

    These are very interesting parralel’s between the two. I find “believing that loving care and on-going conversation can get you much further than punishments and rewards” is the best trait that corresponds with leadership and a sound parenting philosophy. This deals with communication and we know that this is extremely important in a successful business and a strong family unit.

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