Unexpected Lessons from Parenting

In the world of leadership, inspiration often comes from different sources. One leader I worked with liked to use sports analogies, another one drew on military experience and yet another used stories from the theatre. However, there is another field of expertise and advice that can inform how leaders connect with their employees and manage their teams. Believe it or not — it’s the world of parenting.

I suspect that many leaders shy away from using parenting analogies for three reasons: One, they do not want to be treating their employees like children. Two, not everyone has a happy family life and parenting may have negative connotations. Three, it may also imply a certain intimacy and familiarity, which is not conducive to the workplace. Yet I would like to propose that parenting experts have some solid and well-researched models that can help leaders be more effective at work.

Some months ago, I got the opportunity to attend a parenting workshop by Dr. Ross W. Greene, author of The Explosive Child, Lost at School and Raising Human Beings. Dr. Greene is not only a parent, researcher and clinical child psychologist, but he has also worked with extremely difficult children in extremely difficult situations, like juvenile delinquents and youth with psychiatric disorders. I was drawn to Dr. Greene’s work at a time when my own parenting skills and instincts were failing me. The usual parenting titles weren’t working, and someone recommended The Explosive Child.

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