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Do you hover as a leader?

Lance was listening to the radio recently and heard an item on the news that caught his attention: ‘Helicopter parents do more harm than good.’ If this is the case, what impact does this mentality have in the workplace?

So, what are ‘helicopter parents’? Well these are the kind of parents who pay very close attention to their child’s experiences and problems. They rush to prevent their children experiencing any harm or failure and don’t give them the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes. In some cases they even tell their children how to play. They’re called ‘helicopter parents’ because they hover so closely to their child, often against their child’s wishes.

These parents mean well and think they’re doing what’s right for their child, but according to licenced, clinical professional counsellor and psychotherapist, Joyce Marter, intervening so closely in your child’s battles can backfire and affect their personal development.

Now this is no surprise to Lance; in his opinion good parenting is all about letting children take risks and learn from their own mistakes so they develop into confident adults. It’s not about never letting them fail or experience a bad day.

This ‘helicopter parent’ concept has similar parallels in business too. How often do you hear of managers or leaders ‘micro-managing’ their people? They use comments like; “you need to do it this way”, or worse “what I’d do is…” This stifles innovation and individuality, and prevents people from working things out for themselves. What this style of leadership creates is a load of ‘mini-me’s, which is probably desirable if you’re the president of North Korea, but not good for most businesses.

I’m sure these kind of managers and leaders mean well too, but ultimately they’re affecting the development of their people and damaging their organisation. If they’re focusing on the role below their grade, then who’s focusing on their role and what impact is this having on the business? If people aren’t being guided through development, what impact will it have on succession planning? If new ways of doing things aren’t tried and tested, where will improved efficiency come from?

So there’s now evidence to support the view that giving people space to learn is by far the best approach (see below). What type of leader are you? Do you hover or do you allow your people to make mistakes, think for themselves, learn and grow?

While you’re thinking this through, let me leave you with a quote from Richard Branson:

“Over 45 years I have learned a lot from making mistakes”.

Evidence to support this theory can be found here.




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