Parenting and Leadership are the Same

Understanding business parenting.

Business parenting. This phrase was introduced to me years ago in an internal leadership training course. I recall understanding the correlation at the time, but it was probably too early in my leadership role to really understand how accurate this statement really is.

Parenting and leadership have significant similarities and many parallels. For example, as a parent, you set the rules for your children. Similarly, as a leader, you set expectations and define responsibilities, which like rules create somewhat of a known boundary. In parenting, you assign chores – in business, they’re called accountability. Parents teach, and leaders mentor and guide. The list of these parental/leadership responsibilities goes on, including providing guidance, offering support, giving praise, encouraging, and so on.

Some parenting principles have parallels but require a different application. For example, while a parent may protect a child from exposure to a situation they are unprepared for, a leader empowers their team to take a risk, guiding them to seek calculated and educated risk. Parents protect children from failure – leaders cushion the impact and assume some responsibility. Parents must teach everything, where leaders appreciate and nurture the experience and education the individual brings to the team.

The most important similarity, however, is that parents and leaders must both genuinely care. In both cases, success is the goal – successful children and successful individual team members. Parents are often described as selfless because they put the best interest of their children first. They care deeply and undeniably. And while leaders have their own accountability, they should never undervalue the impact of their team. Only in recognizing the value of how much they care will they truly “get it.”

Parents care and selflessly nurture their children into successful adults. Leaders who care nurture their team into successful business people. It’s tough to see any difference.

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