It’s time to stop parenting your team

All leaders could benefit from asking questions rather than offering answers, says Tracy Kite

As leaders, we want people who come to work, with maturity and awareness, responsibility and accountability. We also want them to be able to make decisions and solve problems and to manage conflict and difficulty as adults. If your team doesn’t do this as a matter of course, could it be that you’re leading with a parenting style?

By parenting, I don’t just mean those leadership actions that seek to nurture people and teams; I also include advice, guidance, teaching and problem-solving for others. You might think that these actions (which constitute parenting in the workplace) don’t seem such a bad idea – perhaps we are being our most helpful when we do these things for our teams? But as time goes on, this doesn’t get the best from your people.

Parental leadership, over time, often brings us the opposite of what we might expect it to. That is because guiding, advising and problem solving for others, often has the effect of ‘switching off’ the thought processes of the adult brain.

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