We sit at the feet of successful leaders like children being cared for by parents. Our childishness speaks to lack of power, fear of failure, and the false hope that someone will take care of us.
Adoration and need for nurture speak to lack, not sufficiency, when leaders are viewed as parents.
Leader as parent:
We’re fond of saying we want a family culture within organizations. If that means respectful relationships, caring communication, and supportive environments, I’m all for it. But…
It’s sick when “family culture” means leaders are parents.
When leaders are mommies and daddies they:
- Protect. But, employees aren’t dependent children.
- Set the rules.
- Withhold information because the kids can’t handle the truth.
- Know. All-knowing parents aren’t all knowing. They just seem that way.
- Know what’s best.
- Manipulate. “If you are a good little girl…”
- Have the power.
Grownups don’t need parents.
My dad died, June 25, 2012. I miss him. He left me a legacy of hard work, reading books, and loving mom. Some of him lives in me. I’m thankful. But, he stopped being my protector when I left home at 18.
Grownups need partners.
Partner rather than parent:
Peter Block, author of, “Stewardship,” believes partnership is a healthier way to look at our relationship with leaders. Partners:
- Share responsibility.
- Trust each other.
- Practice transparency, anything less violates the relationship. Parents aren’t transparent with children.
- Expect each other to fulfill their end of the bargain.
- Hold each other accountable.
Bonus: Partners share power.
The belief that leaders are fathers/mothers propagates helplessness and nurtures leadership arrogance and superiority. Daddy-leaders are control freaks regardless of their benevolence.
How would things change if leaders were partners rather than parents?
This entire post is inspired by my reading of, “Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest,” by Peter Block.
I’m giving away twenty-five copies of “Stewardship.” To become eligible, leave a comment on yesterday’s post. Click here: “Overcoming the Disappointment of HR.”