Should You Be A Parent To Your Employees?

parenting and leadership

When I read Too Many Bosses, Too Few Leaders: The Three Essential Principles You Need to Become an Extraordinary Leader by Rajeev Peshawaria in 2012, my children were still little. My daughter was in elementary school, and my son was in daycare. I was struggling to figure out how to work full-time and parent two small children. On most days, it seemed like an impossible task.

As I was reading the book, I kept stopping to take down a ton of notes. I was also getting confused: was I reading a leadership book or a parenting book? If I were to substitute the words “leader” with “parent” and “employee” with “child,” I could have placed the book in the parenting section of the bookstore instead of the business section.

I won’t recap the entire book as it is better to read it in its entirety to understand the actions and qualities of a great leader, but I will highlight the parallels between parenting and leadership.

First, Peshawaria’s provides a powerful definition of leadership.

“Leadership is the art of harnessing human energy toward the creation of a better future.”

At its essence, leadership is about creating a future that is better than the present. We need to proactively design our leadership identity by having laser-sharp clarity of our purpose and values. Purpose and values are the sources of limitless personal energy.

When we identify our purpose, either as a parent or a leader at work, we ask ourselves the same questions:

  • What few things are most important to me?
  • What results do I want to produce?
  • How do I want people to experience me?
  • What values will guide my behavior?

The most important question has to do with what we want out of life. We should ask ourselves: “What is it that I really want?” Peshawaria believes that the only way to achieve work-life balance is to be clear on what is important to you rather than focus on the number of work hours in a day or the working conditions. (I personally do not believe in the idea of work-life balance. It might be an interesting topic to explore in future blog posts.)

Parents create a future for themselves and their children. Company leaders take it upon themselves to create a better future for the organization and motivate others to join them on the journey. Good parents and leaders have a natural tendency to question the status quo and seek out opportunities to improve.

Have you ever noticed how your emotions impact people around you at home? The same happens in the workplace. Great leaders understand the power of emotion and can harness it to motivate people to action. They know that emotional energy is four times more powerful than rational energy. For example, money releases only rational energy and does not have the power to release emotional energy.

The key to motivated and engaged staff is not in trying to motivate them, but in understanding their preexisting motivation triggers and aligning the triggers with the overall mission.

Peshawaria identified seven principles that lead to engaged employees. The same conditions could be considered critical to ensure employees’ work is meaningful.

  1. Managers regularly engage with direct reports and have a good sense of what is important to them.
  2. Employees’ opinions on important issues are sought and valued.
  3. Organizations have a culture in which people collaborate rather than compete with one another.
  4. Everyone in the organization is treated with respect and dignity.
  5. Organizations have an environment of community and friendship.
  6. Organizations have a fair reward and recognition system in place.
  7. Organizations have a culture of high performance where mediocrity is not accepted.

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