As leaders we want individuals on our teams to succeed and as parents we want our children to succeed. When Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, was asked about the similarities between leadership and parenting, he suggested tough love is a critical skill in both contexts. I’ve recreated Grant’s “Tough Love Matrix of Leadership and Parenting” below.
Tough love combines two essential elements: caring deeply and setting high expectations. In parenting, tough love involves being responsive and having high standards, leading to greater child well-being. In leadership, this translates to caring for team members while holding them accountable for high performance, enhancing effectiveness. Grant further notes that “Inspiring” leaders can draw inspiration from Kim Scott’s concept of radical candor, which involves caring personally and challenging directly.
Now, let’s turn these insights inward. Below are some questions to guide you in reflecting on your own experiences and approaches:
How do you currently balance caring and setting high expectations in your role as a leader or parent?
Can you think of a time when you felt you either cared too much or expected too much? How did you recalibrate your approach?
How do you ensure that your tough love approach inspires and motivates rather than demoralizes?
Engaging with these questions will deepen your understanding of the tough love approach and further develop your skills as a leader and parent.