Last year, I published a piece about leaders being followers—following a cause bigger than themselves.

A reader wrote to me with some of his leadership experiences:

Another thing when I think of a leader is someone who empowers and assists others to live up to their potential. During my career, this has meant “clearing the road” for people who worked for me. I would ensure they knew the outcome they (we) needed to achieve, and work with them to ensure they had a roadmap to get there. I would ask, “What more do you think you need to get us to the desired outcome? More than that, I now work for you. You’re the boss, now. You’re in charge. What do you need me to do so we achieve our goal?”

I liked turning the tables and making myself “work for” the junior person. I found it had many benefits, not the least of which was it always made people feel more empowered, and hence they took more personal ownership.

I was reminded of this when we had friends over recently. Between the five couples, we had more than a dozen kids, ranging in age from 10 to 27. One of the parents of a 21-year-old was talking about the way she had monitored her daughter’s activity during the years she had been away at college. Another parent objected to the helicoptering, which led to a lively debate, splitting the group evenly.

I was on the side of the debate urging less helicoptering, allowing our kids to learn and experience and mature and grow on their own—not without our help, but instead of hand-holding, choosing to empower, as the reader wrote about the way he approached leadership in the workplace.

During our debate, someone said something about millennials. I then asked the same mom who monitored her daughter if she was going to be the kind of mother-of-millennials I had heard about who would call her child’s boss at work to complain about a poor performance review. She said she was not and, in fact, as a boss at work she had that very experience—she actually once received a call from the mom of a millennial wanting to discuss her child’s work situation.

That is not a parent who empowered her child. And that is not good leadership.

How are you acting as a leader at home, at work, or in your community? Please join the conversation with your comments…

Best regards,

David

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