If Today’s Leaders Led The Way They Parent, They’d Get Fired
The following post is from Robert Glazier on December 4, 2023 and his Elevate newsletter https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/todays-leaders-led-way-parent-theyd-get-fired-robert-glazer-zr3vf/?midToken=AQGgWYn8AI_qww&midSig=2J9mEg2WLjMX01&trk=eml-email_series_follow_newsletter_01-newsletter_content_preview-0-title_&trkEmail=eml-email_series_follow_newsletter_01-newsletter_content_preview-0-title_-null-r7c44~lpr0mjyi~2a-null-null&eid=r7c44-lpr0mjyi-2a&otpToken=MTYwMDE4ZTkxMzI3Y2JjMGJlMmYwMmVhNDcxOWU3YjU4ZmNlZDQ0NzlmYTc4NTZmNzNjMTA1NmU0ODUzNWZmMmZjYTJkNmJjMTJkOWUzZGY1NzY2OTUyMzkyMjYwMTM2MmZjZGIwMjc1NTk3ZWExMmM1LDEsMQ%3D%3D.
Many of our readers would question why an article such as this on a coaching website?
Well let’s put this in context:
More and more coaches at the University and College levels have to deal with these types of parent in their coaching, and if it’s not shut down quickly when they arrive, it can be 2 -5 years of “hell” especially if the player is good..
The second reason and more importantly, the emphasis on the leadership that coaches and as leaders are supposed to provide can be stifled if we lead this way.
Once upon a time, a key goal of parenting was to equip kids to navigate the real world as independent adults. Going to college or university was an important inflection point on this journey for many kids, who were expected to manage all facets of their lives for the first time. In fact, providing a safe environment for kids to exercise this newfound independence was considered a major benefit of college.
Today, however, this goal of preparing kids for independence at 18 has evaporated. Instead, we’ve seen the rise of a new parenting style I like to call permissive and over-functional parenting, or P&O Parenting for short.
Practitioners of P&O Parenting seem willing to go to any effort or expense to make their kids’ lives better and easier—and they do so even after their kids go to college or enter adulthood. This well-intentioned approach is causing kids to be less independent, less resilient and more anxious than ever before.
Last week, I came across an article that explained this phenomenon perfectly, titled “The Final Frontier for Helicopter Parents.” The piece detailed the rise of WhatsApp and Facebook groups where the parents of college students arrange roommates, set up playdates, strategize about classes, discuss how laundry will be done and generally find new ways to micromanage the lives of their adult children who could be learning how to manage themselves.
It’s really hard to overstate how disempowering this behavior is for a developing adult. Naturally, I find the best way to illustrate the problem is an analogy between parenting and leadership.
If any leader attempted to micromanage a professional team with the level of officiousness we see in many of today’s parents, they’d find themselves with a frustrated team and in a tough conversation with their boss or human resources (HR) about necessary remedial action.
We understand clearly that micromanagement in the workplace detrimentally affects employees’ well-being. Research from Harvard Business Review found micromanaged employees experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and despair (just like today’s teens), leading to higher turnover rates.
Exceptional leaders don’t micromanage to avoid errors; they encourage autonomy and empower their team with the freedom to innovate. Rather than intervening at the first sign of trouble, they adopt a coaching stance, allowing employees to navigate challenges and extract valuable lessons from ambiguity and setbacks.
Micromanagement is clearly detrimental to employee development in the workplace. Why don’t we consider rooting out this same behavior in parenting and replacing it with something more empowering?
For example, consider two approaches a parent might take when their child forgets their cleats for soccer practice (again) and calls asking for help.
- P&O Parent: This parent jumps into action, dropping what they’re doing to rush to the field with their kids’ cleats. This solves the immediate problem, but the child learns that they can forget their cleats in the future, as they know the parent will simply bail them out.
- Empowering Parent: This parent empathizes with the child but explains they can’t or won’t bring the cleats. The child then will have to find a way to borrow a pair, miss practice or practice in whatever they are wearing, which will likely result in some embarrassment. Later, the parent kindly, but firmly reminds the kid that forgetting equipment has consequences and offers up some tips to remember their cleats next time. The child connects the dots between actions and outcomes and implements the suggestion to write a note and post it on the side door that they leave from each morning for school.
The difference is clear: the P&O Parent solved the short-term problem, but the Empowering Parent’s kid likely learned a vital lesson about preparation and responsibility beyond the cleats.
Today, we aren’t raising our kids to be independent, resilient adults. Instead, far too many parents make themselves the superheroes at the center of their kids’ lives, clearing every obstacle from their paths and raising their children to be dependent, fragile, and ill-equipped to navigate the inevitable adversity of adult life.
Maybe if these P&O Parents got more 360 reviews showing the poor outcomes of their approach they’d be more inclined to ease up and let kids have more agency. But just because there’s no HR for parenting doesn’t mean it’s too late to evaluate your approach and make changes.
To let go, you actually need to let go. In parenting, as in leadership, we should aim to be bird launchers, rather than nest builders.
Quote of The Week
“We must prepare children for the path, instead of the path for children.” – Tim Elmore
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About Robert Glazer:
Bob Glazer is the founder and CEO of global partner marketing agency, Acceleration Partners.Under Robert’s leadership. He is also the co-founder and Chairman of BrandCycle. A serial entrepreneur, Bob has a passion for helping individuals and organizations build their capacity to elevate.
Acceleration Partners has become a recognized global leader in the affiliate and partner marketing industry, receiving numerous industry and company culture awards.
Bob was also named to Glassdoor’s list of Top CEO of Small and Medium Companies in the US, ranking #2.
Bob shares his ideas and insights via Friday Forward, a popular weekly inspirational newsletter that reaches over 100,000 individuals and business leaders across 50+ countries. He is the host of the Elevate Podcast, where Bob sits down with leaders, thinkers and authors to discuss personal growth and helping others live their best lives. Bob is also the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and international bestselling author of four books: Elevate, Friday Forward, Performance Partnerships and How To Make Virtual Teams Work.
A regular columnist for Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur, Bob’s writing reaches over five million people around the globe each year who resonate with his topics, which range from performance marketing and entrepreneurship to company culture, capacity building, hiring and leadership. Worldwide, he is also a sought-after speaker by companies and organizations, especially on subjects related to business growth, culture, mindful transitions, building capacity and performance. Bob’s website can be found at: https://www.robertglazer.com/