Parent Leadership – Do you have the needed and appropriate roles in your team?

Some time ago I wrote on parent leadership as new paradigm in leadership styles. I explored the differences between various leadership models, such as traditional, bureaucratic, charismatic, etc., and goals of each. You can read it in my post dated May 2020.

Recently, I have come to understand the two types of roles that make up parent leadership. Each of these roles is defined by its own responsibilities and its own spheres of action or influence. Neither can do without the other, and each must accept as well as understand the need of the other to function together well.

These roles are akin to those in family, viz., the parts played by a father and a mother, the normal parental roles that signify a family. A family is a team at home with common goals, aspirations, timelines and focus. There is an appropriate work culture and a rhythm of functioning that enables the family unit to progress and prosper. Both these roles are crucial and important for the nature and nurture of this basic unit of society. When families prosper, then communities prosper, society proliferates and the city/nation achieves incredible success.

Parent Partnership

Today, there is a trend and tenure in the workplace to consider your team as your family. Nancy Solari gives three reasons why it is a win-win to treat your team as family. Therefore, it is very relevant to know and understand how these roles play out in the workplace and how crucial it is to understand their importance.

The nuances of these roles are well laid out and articulated in and by the Bible. Their part in raising a family is best given in the words and sayings of King Solomon the Wise. The smartest, most brilliant and most knowledgeable man on earth wrote these words:

My son, comply with the commandment of your father, And do not ignore the teaching of your mother; Bind them continually on your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; When you sleep, they will watch over you; And when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; And rebukes for discipline are the way of life (Proverbs 6:20‭-‬23).

The two words, commandment associated with a father, and teaching associated with a mother, exemplify and qualify the full parenting roles.

Command and Teaching

A commandment is a command, a mandate, an order or injunction given by authority. It’s a charge or an authoritative precept, a behest that is laid down by one in command or a commander. Commandment is first associated with the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai, wherein He set them as the basic preamble for the set of laws which followed, laws that constituted Israel as a nation and branded them as His own special people. A father is meant to be the head of the family and the authority figure who guides the family. He is the one who sets in place certain mandates that will enable his household to be fruitful, achieve certain family goals, and be an impact on the community around. A family is the subset or building block of society, and for it to be a functional unity of the whole, it must be constituted to be in order, primarily by the father or the head of the home.

Teaching is defined as one of the instruments of education and is a special function to impart understanding and skill. The main function of teaching is to make learning effective, with the learning process getting completed as a result of the teaching. Thus, teaching and learning are very closely related, and H. C. Morrison says Teaching is an intimate contact between the more mature personality and a less mature one. Teaching is also considered to be a social and cultural process, planned and done to enable an individual to learn something in their life. Again, teaching is defined as an engagement with learners to enable their understanding and application of knowledge, concepts and processes. It includes design, content selection, delivery, assessment and reflection.

In the home, while the father lays down the law, it is the mother who takes it and causes it to be implemented or adhered to. She comes alongside, individually, providing interpretation and practical application of the mandate of the father, making it feasible and comprehensible to young minds. Since she is in sync and a deeper relationship with the father, she is able to provide context for his expectation, and breaks it down to day-to-day tasks, bearing in mind the overall intention of the father. She is his validator who makes his ideas into reality, communicating effectively his mind to the rest of the family. She is his co-head who ensures the well-being and goal of the family. She is closer and more sensitive to each and every member of the family, and can thus adapt and impart the common goal of the family according to the individual nuances of the different people who form the family.

The role of the mother is crucial and mandatory for translating instruction into practical application, and she is also the mediator who bridges the gap between the head and others. She enables relationship and communication, promotes harmony and unity, ensuring that the family moves forward to achieve its goals, smoothing troubled waters with her wise words and skillful conduct. This is why the Bible gives the injunction to the children not to despise her role, since it is usual for the family to honor the father and neglect the mother.

Team Dynamics

Now, how does this play out in a team at work or in an office scenario or in a corporate company or even in a church leadership team?

A team must have, not just a leader, but also a co-leader who is a validator of the leader. This person has a mother-like role, who works with and in unison with the leader to help achieve the desired outcome. The leader sets the target but it is the co-leader who nurtures the team to rise up to the occasion. The co-leader or the second-in-line is also a validator and authenticator of the leader. They help the leader and the team relate well, often acting as the mediator between the two, cultivating a healthy work environment. While the leader would be a visionary whose eyes are set on the goal, the co-leader is practical and down-to-earth, though they too are visionaries. The leader will tend to miss the nitty gritty things of reaching the goal since his or her eyes are set on the horizon. The co-leader’s eyes are also set on the end, but in addition, they are well aware.of the bumps and speedbreakers along the way. Thus, they work to help the team when they hit roadblocks and barriers to the desired outcome.

Just as a mother, person and role, is core and essential to the well-being of a family, a co-leader is of utmost importance to a team at work. They are crucial and critical to reach the set deadlines and targets, and therefore, must be recognized as such. They must be empowered by the leader with authority to deal with truant and slackers, honored before all and backed up as his or her righthand. The leader must spend time with his or her validator to share their thoughts as well as to appreciate their role in the team. The leader must prioritise this person, giving space to them to voice their concerns and give ear to them. The leader must cultivate a deep relationship with his or her co-leader, treat them with utmost respect, never belittle them, and trust their insight. The leader must not be so insecure as to compete with the co-leader, but give time to foster them, while they teach and instruct the team.

The leader can have more than one co-leader, but must not pit one against another. Rather, he or she must work to preserve unity among the co-leaders, favor all equally so as to ensure their security with him or her. The leader should be open and accountable to his co-leader (s) as well as give ear to their difficulties in dealing with the team. He or she must understand their concerns and provide solutions to issues they bring to him or her.

Co-leader Concerns

If you are a leader and don’t have validators and co-leaders, work to develop such, or you would either become a burnout or be stuck with one project only. Teach and train a few, pouring your acumen into them, and then appoint them to be your co-leaders.

In a chessboard or game, the Queen validates and protects the King as his second most important player. Even so, a co-leader is mandatory for your team!

To know how to choose validators and co-leaders, read my article entitled The Power of Having and Being A Validator

If you do raise and appoint co-leaders and validators, you will expand and grow in every way, exponentially!

Does your team or teams have leader and co-leader (s) who ensure success of your expectation? Check it out!

To know more about parent leadership paradigm, read my article: The Best Style of Leadership – the Parenting Paradigm


The often rehearsed concept and statement that we hear today, not just in Christian circles, but also in corporate sectors, is the term servant leadership. This has gained acceptance as contrast and as opposed to professional leadership.

A professional leader is there to extract work and treat his team or those who work under him as not deserving attention beyond what their work entitles. This means that his focus is on what they do and the results they produce. To him, they are just people who have been appointed to do a job and his work is to extract the desired outcome from them. His relationship is limited to the work sphere and his care of or over them is always in relation to that circle. To him or, they are slightly better than slaves, but hstill there to provide the service.

In contrast, servant leadership is ‘a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations.’ Here the leader goes beyond the work sphere and comes into an understanding that his people are his to care for. He or she does not consider them as being there to serve him, but that he is there to serve them. The servant-leader steps into the personal space of his subordinate, not invading it, but seeking to build a relationship. Due to this, he or she is able to empathize not just criticise, working to produce results, not by a rod, but motivation and seeks to gain their trust.

For the professional leader, his management is a position and a vocation. To the servant leader, his administration is not a post, a vocation or even a style. It is a calling, stewardship and an influence!

There is a third higher and more noble leadership strain or trait that exists, especially in the Bible – that of parent leadership. 

The mark of a true parent is to desire the best for their child and they are most happy when the child grows beyond them. A parent is most happy when they see their child superseding them in achievement and overtaking their position. So also, a parent leader is one who is thrilled when his team member or subordinate or disciple outgrows him or her, to take on higher position and post. He or she is thrilled to have groomed them to that level and used the time given them to lay avoid foundation.

A parent thinks nothing of laying down his or her life for the sake of their child and will never crib one bit of sacrifice they make for their child. A parent is the one person in the whole wide world who never minds the cost involved and the price they pay for their child to rise to heights they weren’t or haven’t reached. So also, a parent leader welcomes the role he or she has played in the life of a trainee or apprentice that enables them to go beyond their level. In fact, they consider them the crown of their achievement.

A real parent is intuitively aware of their child’s strengths and weaknesses to at and then work on and with them in a way that fits that unique makeup. A parent then sets goals and milestones that challenge yet motivate their child, boosting their child in the right places and prodding them beyond their pain barrier until they inherit their destiny. A parent leader, likewise, is so able to assess their team members personality quirks and traits that they know what task to entrust to whom. They also know whom to push and prod, and whom to cajole and encourage in the process of getting the desired output.

A parent may feel and deal with their child in anger or with sorrow, but never will they give up on them. They will always accept and have a soft corner for their child irrespective of how many times they fail. Till the end, they will never give up on their child but always expect he or she will one day turn around. A parent leader, likewise, is ready to give their subordinate a second chance and in case they fail, they do not mind handing over their protégé to other leaders for his or her betterment.

A parent may expect returns or remuneration from their child, not as a right or as a payment for their work in reading them, but more as a token and an acknowledgement of their input in their child’s life. Their child’s growth and progress are all the thanks they need to know that they have been honoured. A parent leader does not feel neglected or sidelined when he is acknowledged for the role he played in his disciple’s achievement but will rest on the fact that his laurels are from the one who sees all and rewards openly.

Finally, a parent is never jealous of or in competition with his or her child, for he knows who he is and what role he has played, even when his child does not accept it. So also, a parent leader is never insecure that he has to fight to gain or hold his own. He rests in the satisfaction of a job well done and trust well completed.

Can there be such parent leaders and will we find them in this world?

Certainly and for sure, because there have been such people of old!

To be a parent leader needs guts, humility and compassion.

Which type of leader are you? What type of leader do you desire to be?

*Pics courtesy