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Leadership Styles and Parenting

Several years ago, I worked with a boy who was having some very difficult friendship issues.

During the course of the work we did together, we discussed leadership – what we saw as good and bad. I found what I think is an excellent summary of various styles of leadership and the different impacts (below). We were both very struck by its content and I have never forgotten it. It made me wonder about my style of parenting (as well, of course, about leadership in work and other situations) because, as parents, we are leaders and our leadership style will affect our outcomes with and for our children.

It can seem, in the busy structure of the academic year as if there has to be an awful lot of the Commanding style of parental leadership - but is that really the case? Is that because our aims as parents are really our aims and those are setting our agenda and our style? If we had, for example, a more Democratic or Affiliative style of parenting, both of which have more positive outcomes than the Commanding style, would so much Commanding need to be done?

I am now the parent of four young adults, but my leadership role is not over. I don’t have to help them through the day-to-day running of their lives, but I do still have to be there in a support role and need to continue to lead by example. Of course, by now, a lot of the good, or the damage, has already been done. I have already modelled my leadership styles since they were born. If my children have turned out always to be autocratic Commanders in the workplace, who lack empathy, can’t collaborate and are terrible at building relationships, then it will be partly my fault.

If we seriously want to nurture the well-being of our families, then we would do well to consider our leadership style and to be very conscious of which style we use and when. We are not only planting for an immediate crop but are sowing seeds for the future. Our children are highly likely to go on to be leaders in their own families, in their workplaces and in their communities.

As I look around at the current political turmoil, both nationally and worldwide, I am particularly aware of the effects styles of leadership can have on our wellbeing. Change can start in our own families and, indeed, in our own workplaces too.

The summer holidays will (I hope!) be much less busy and a good time to take stock. I’ll certainly build in at least one retreat day, in silence, to let my life speak to me, to ponder what has gone well, what not so well, how I can build and maintain relationships and what are my leadings for the future. May I suggest that you give yourself the gift of your own retreat time to do the same. Perhaps one thing you could consider is the styles of leadership that you use and how they affect your parenting.

I hope you and your families have a very relaxing summer. Thank you for reading our Well-Being Blog this year.

Meg Harper, School Counsellor