In the 1960s, developmental and clinical psychologist Diana Baumrind noticed something simple and outwardly obvious. In her research, Baumrind wasn't looking in the business sector. She wasn't directly considering leaders or leadership either. She was studying parenting. Yet, her observations offer the very insight organizations and their leaders need to thrive in today's turbulent times.
What Baumrind noticed was that parenting styles differed along a continuum, one defined by the extremes of responsiveness and "demandingness," and how parents mixed the two, or didn't. Parenting, she concluded, tended to fall into three types. At one extreme, characterized by extreme demandingness, was what she called the authoritarian parent -- the parent who was rigid, harsh and one-directional in their relationship with their child, all or nearly all of the time. At the other extreme was the disproportionately responsiveness or what she called permissive parent -- the one that over-responds, indulges and even spoils their children, and, in the process, sets up a very different but equally dependent relationship as the authoritarian parent, equally offering little that would allow the child to grow.
There was a third type, which Baumrind called the authoritative parent. This parent type perpetually sought a balance of high demand and high response, plus something more and more important: to let the child grow into increasing ability and autonomy, and to allow the parent-child relationship to do the same. At a distance, and in a conversation about parenting types and which type is more relevant, realistic, and fosters greater collective resilience, the answer seems obvious. (It's this third type, the authoritative parent.) Yet, Baumrind found that for most parents it was not. Critically, the very same factors characterize good leadership and poor leadership in uncertain times, and those factors are just as often overlooked or ignored by senior leaders. It's time to change that.
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