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The Leadership Skills To Be Learned From Parenting


by Dr. Dharius Daniels, author of “Relational Intelligence and “Your Purpose is Calling

Parenting and leadership have much in common, and there are invaluable leadership skills that can be learned from being a good parent.  Parents are leaders of their family, and good parenting practices can be applied to leadership skills in the workplace to improve communication, teamwork and ultimately, productivity.

A crucial aspect to parenting and leadership is the understanding of the concepts of authority and influence, and how these approaches impact behavior, attitude and performance in both children and employees.

Good parents are people who parent not just using their authority over their children, but they parent using their influence. This concept of influence applies particularly to children when they get a bit older, as they will more than likely be outside your presence more than inside your presence. When a parent parents with authority, a child in your presence is more likely to be compliant and will follow. They may not be as compliant however when outside your presence.  When you  parent with influence however, the effect is quite different. Influence doesn’t make or force people to follow, it makes people want to follow for a variety of reasons. When a parent is influencing or using influence with their children, they are trying to get children to own and adopt certain values, and to make decisions based on those values. They are trying to bring children to certain conclusions, vantage points and perspectives in life.  These skills are the same for leaders because good leaders recognize that although they have authority, they cannot use authority alone to get the best out of their team. Good leaders want their team to not only be compliant when in their leader’s presence, but they want the people on their  team to own the company’s values, vision and mission and to make decisions accordingly. 

There are also 5 crucial parenting skills can also be successfully applied to the workplace that will foster and enable better leadership all around:

1. Coaching.

In the different stages of a child’s life, but specifically when it comes to teenage and adult children, there is parental coaching. Coaching is the use of enquiry to bring about self-discovery that will hopefully bring about a change in a person’s behavior. Parents do this a lot, especially with teenagers, questioning their behavior and decision making processes throughout. While this happens in parenting, it is also seen in good leaders, who also understand the importance of coaching their employees. Positive enquiry for positive behavior. Great leaders sometimes do this subconsciously with their team members, but the impact is significant on building confidence in employees, and providing direction.

2. Communicating.

This is the ability to clearly articulate your thoughts, your expectations and your emotions and to do so in a way that is contextually appropriate. By context I don’t mean geographics, but demographics that considers a person’s personality, make-up and type. If a parent has multiple children, they know that they have to communicate in different ways, according to the individual child. Communication has to be tapered according to demographics in order to be meaningful and effective. Leaders recognize the very same thing about communicating and communicating contextually with both their clients and their employees. They recognize that their communication needs to be bespoke and focused on the client and/or employee as an individual in order to carry meaning and impact.

3. Correcting.

Correcting is applied when a child does something that is not in the best interest of themselves or others. Behavior needs to be identified and corrected by a parent. In the leadership space, the very same thing is true. There will be times when a certain employee’s behavior is not good for themselves individually or for the team or company, and that behavior needs to be corrected. 

4. Comforting.

No matter how well intended people are, occasionally they will miss the mark. They are going to recognize that they have missed the mark and will need to be encouraged and comforted as a result. Children do this often, and require their parents’ reassurance and comfort for when they mess up. The same applies in the leadership space and it is equally important there. You don’t want a person in the business space to have failures that are emotionally fatal to them, and those failures start creating limiting beliefs and those limiting beliefs limit a person’s productivity.  This has a negative impact on their ability to produce and to optimize. Comforting is important in the business space and essential for employee well-being.

5. Challenging.

Growing up, my father, based on which child he was dealing with, allowed that to determine what challenge looked like to him. Children are all different, and so the same standard can not be applied across the board for everybody because everybody does not have the same interests or capacity. Parents recognize this and challenge their children to do their best, in varying degrees and ways. Great leaders do the very same thing, recognizing nuances in their team, and challenging them to be the best they can in their designated roles. They challenge so that business goals can be accomplished and growth within a company can be achieved.

I encourage you to take your good parenting skills to the office, and apply them to your leadership style. You’d be amazed at the results as will your employees.


Dr. Dharius Daniels, an emotional intelligence expert, author of Relational Intelligence: The People Skills You Need For The Life Of Purpose You Want and Your Purpose is Calling: Your Difference is Your Destiny (launching this September), and former professor at Princeton University. With 20+ years as a gifted motivator, Daniels is focused on assisting others to self-optimize without self-destructing.


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