Practical insights for leaders

What Do Parenting & Leadership Have In Common?

What do effective leadership and parenting have in common?  A lot – they’re both about people management! Praising effort and not results, allowing people to fail, and taking a strengths-based (vs. deficit-detector) approach could equally apply to both roles.  If this is relevant to you, do your leadership and parenting approaches align?  Where are you having more success?  What one learning could you apply to the other arena?

Cadence Curation

Our recommended reads / listens / watches this month…. 

READ: Keep Brainstorming – Your Best Ideas Are Still to Come | Lucas & Nordgren | Kellogg (9 mins)

Our intuition would have us believe that in brainstorming sessions, our best ideas come early and fast.  This is an unhelpful myth (it’s dubbed the ‘creative-cliff illusion’).  In reality, research suggests that truly good ideas require time, work, and digging.  Experiencing difficulty should not be misinterpreted as a decrease in the quality of ideas. So what is the message?  False beliefs about creativity make us less creative.  If you’re struggling, keep going.

COMIC: On A Plate | Toby Morris | RNZ (5 mins)  

This hard-hitting read on privilege  – and the myth of social mobility – has been imprinted on my mind since I first saw it. I joined a US investment bank feeling like an outsider (a grammar school girl from Northern Ireland) but, of course, ‘the system’ was always rigged in my favour; free quality education and a middle-class home full of books.  Should leaders have more objective conversations about social mobility and the impact that socio-economic background has on access to opportunity? 



In a pre-mortem, team members assume that the project they are planning has just failed and then generate plausible reasons for its demise. Those with reservations may speak freely at the outset, so that the project can be improved rather than autopsied.

Pre-Mortem Steps: 

  • Consider an important goal or project you are working on right now. 
  • Fast forward six months and imagine the project has failed.
  • Look back from the future and list all of the reasons that caused the failure [N.B. write about what did go wrong vs. what might go wrong].
  • Consolidate these fresh insights and use them to strengthen your existing plan. 

This approach sounds simple, but there is compelling logic and evidence as to why it generates better decisions, predictions, and plans. Pre-mortems help people overcome blindspots, bridge short-term and long-term thinking, dampen excessive optimism, and challenge the illusion of consensus.

Any Other Business

There’s one skill that’s critical for both leaders and parents: tough love. Research reveals that children have higher well-being – and better academic performance – when parents couple responsiveness to their needs with high standards for their behaviour. Similarly, great leaders care about people and have high expectations for their performance. As parents and leaders, they deliver what Kim Scott calls ‘radical candour’; understanding that in the long run, inspiration comes from a combination of caring personally and challenging directly. 

 *HT to Adam Grant for the matrix.