Great Parenting and Great Managing – How Are They Similar?

Recently, I heard Julie Lythcott-Haims speak about ways parents are going awry in raising children in today's world. She refers to the critical balance of two needs parents must fulfill with children.

One need is for parents to be DEMANDING in expectations of their children to learn, to contribute to "chores" and larger causes, and to progress along the path toward adulthood. The other is for parents to be RESPONSIVE to children's needs along the way. This includes their needs to feel loved and cared for, to bring forth their own voices, and to learn and grow constantly.

Both are necessary. Too little of one or both creates conditions in which children suffer over time.

Fear of not being tough enough can easily lead to imbalance. Fear of not being understanding enough can as easily lead to imbalance.

Consider how this applies to managing and to leading others. 

What is cultivated from an improper balance of demand and responsiveness: what are costs to those we manage, to the climate in which we expect people to perform, and to resultant performance?

Thinking of great leaders and managers I know, I realize that consistently they are demanding AND responsive; they have highly functioning people who are learning, are motivated, and are committed to accomplishing meaningful objectives.

This weekend, after digesting Haims' comments a bit, I heard about a manager who recently took over a big office. She is "very demanding" yet also is inclusive in picking the brains of team members, in putting forth real challenges, in seeking solutions, and in getting people engaged and interested. She clearly balances both needs 

HOW can we get better in HOW we demand and incorporate the needs and considerations of those we serve -- and do this in a way that stimulates their interests, development, and commitment to tackling the big agendas at work?


What are your thoughts?

Matthew Callahan