I had a conversation with my eldest child the other day that is relevant to today’s discussion. Our son is 13, quite opinionated, and a good negotiator! And he came to his parents to let us know that he did not like a decision we had made, and wanted to know why we had made it. The simple version of the story is that we were nudging him to do something that he didn’t really want to do. The “something” made him highly uncomfortable. And he wanted to know why he had to do it.
We explained to him that, from our perspective, as his parents, we had two primary jobs: to push him and to protect him. And that both mattered. If we focused exclusively on either, at the expense of the other, we would not be doing a particularly good job as his parents.
Our job is to push him, nudge him, and prepare him for the competitive world we are living in. And that means making him uncomfortable once in a while.
And our job is also to protect him, nurture him, and keep him safe.
Both matter. If we are to be good parents, we have to constantly balance those two things. If we let the pendulum swing too far in either direction — too much pushing, and not enough protecting; or too much protecting, and not enough pushing — we would be doing him a disservice.
We explained that our job was to nudge him towards things that made him uncomfortable once in a while. But not so much that he was at major risk.
He got it… or at least seemed to.
And this conversation connects directly to my own business leadership style and the advice I give many of our clients. Great business leadership is a lot like great parenting, in many ways. Great business leaders push their people and their organizations to achieve more, be more productive, to stretch their limits. But great leaders also protect their people and their organizations, to keep them healthy.
Great business leaders need to constantly balance lots of things, including when to push harder. And when to pull back and let people take a breath. Don’t push enough, the team will never reach the heights it is capable of. Push too much, and you create an unhealthy environment that will chase good people away.
Our jobs as parents and business leaders is similar… if not exactly the same. Find that wonderful balance between pushing and protecting. Both are essential.
Have a great day.
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– Take too long to make decision?
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– Make things too complicated?
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