Why dictator parenting doesn’t work and what to do instead
I love reading professional and personal self-help books – and I love that tips from both worlds can be applied to each other. Recently I enjoyed one that I think explains why dictator parenting doesn’t work, called, Co-Active Leadership: Five Ways to Lead Companies by Karen and Henry Kimsey-House.
What I keep seeing time and again is how similar family structures are to companies. i.e. What works in work culture works in homes. Take the Kimsey-House “co-active leadership” theory.
What is co-active leadership?
The concept of co-active leadership is that there isn’t just one be all, end all “leader” in a group, but rather that every individual is and has the opportunity to be a leader. Leadership is more of a verb than a noun.
We all have the opportunity to show up as leaders in all aspects of our lives, and leadership is present in everything we do and with everyone we interact with. Co-active leadership encompasses everyone we interact with, especially those we are aligned and partnered with to achieve shared tasks and goals.
To break it down:
Co = those around you on your team or in your family whom you care about their success
Dash = both / and (not either/or)
Active = what we have to do to get a job done
How to use co-active leadership in parenting, and why it works
In parenting, co-active leadership means to allow your “co’s” (your kids) to be a partner in the home – by giving them space, being transparent, and collaborating with them by engaging in dialogue about thoughts, decisions and giving thorough explanations. And the “active” is the driving force of being a parent/leader and making the hard decisions and calls.
For example, whenever the kids make a proposition to me, I always tell them that I’ll take their thoughts and ideas under consideration, but that I ultimately get the final say. I keep the dialogue open so they know I’m not just going to reign over them as a dictator, but rather that it is a quasi-democracy. I listen to what they say, and ultimately I make the final decision. You can do both! This way the kids know we’re on the same team, that their voices and thoughts matter and that I respect them. This aids in building trust and calm within our family.
How to apply co-active leadership at work
The same concept applies at work – I share with my team what my intentions are and where I want us to go, but I ask for their input and their buy-in so they’re part of the process. We get there together, but it’s still ultimately my responsibility to make final decisions.
The end game – everyone wins
By collaborating and respecting the voices of everyone on the team (or family), you build and maintain trust and respect, and ultimately, calm.
You can be effective AND ensure that the people you care for feel nurtured. You can take care of yourself, AND you can work hard and accomplish your goals. These concepts weaved together create wholeness.
I know it’s hard to see sometimes, when we’re in the weeds of the craziness of work, family, and home. But that’s the Yin and the Yang of it. Take a co-active leadership approach to your life as a parent, professional, partner, caregiver, and watch your happiness and calm increase in yourself and those around you.
You have the power of choice. Life isn’t just happening to us, we are co-creators. We all share the dichotomy of challenge and joy.
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